Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) finally got his first win of the season and the monkey off his back.
The Frenchman powered up the middle of the uphill sprint into La Chaise-Dieu, beating Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) and Trek-Segafredo’s Natnael Tesfatsion in third.
“It was a tough victory to get,” said Alaphilippe. “These last few months have been tough, but we’ve worked hard and got back to where we wanted. It’s a relief.”
It’s been 14 months since his last victory and in that time the monkey has gotten significantly bigger and heavier and more irritated. That furry creature is of course Alaphilippe’s team boss Patrick Lefevere.
It’s no secret that Lefevere has been howling and complaining about Alaphilippe’s lack of wins and huge salary. He’s tired of the Frenchman’s crashes and injuries and list of excuses. The monkey has a dog house and Alaphilippe is in it.
Lefevere prefers the stick over the carrot when it comes to motivating his riders — and Alaphilippe has been given nothing but carrots for months and months. Wjen he goes back to the team car during races, they hand him another carrot instead of a gel. It’s gotten ugly.
That was perhaps the reason why Alaphilippe crossed the finish line making a “calm down” gesture with both arms. That was no doubt directed at his critics but mostly his chief tormentor Lefevere.
We haven’t read any quotes from Lefevere about the Frenchman’s big win but it’s probably along the lines of “Well, it’s about time” or “Why should I clap? — that’s what I pay him for” or “Maybe I won’t cut his salary after all.”
Alaphilippe was more than pleased with the victory at The Criterium du Dauphiné. “Now the win’s in the bag, that’s great news,” he said. “I can take the rest of the week a bit more calmly and see what more I can do.”
Yes, the monkey is off his back for the moment. That should certainly improve Alaphilippe’s mood, climbing abilities and power output