The tensions between Julian Alaphilippe and his Soudal-QuickStep staff boss, Patrick Lefevere, are dragging on, with every social gathering issuing a brand new spherical of feedback by way of the press.
Lefevere had struck a harsh tone as he set out expectations forward of the season, placing stress on the two-time world champion to bounce again after an injury-ridden 2022 marketing campaign.
“Julian has a champion’s wage, however he should verify that he nonetheless is a champion,” Lefevere mentioned, doubting that harm and sickness had been totally in charge for his relative scarcity of outcomes, and hinting at a potential break up: “I made him perceive that he can be allowed to go away if he was bored with the setting.”
Alaphilippe then countered in an interview with L’Equipe, saying: “He by no means mentioned such issues to my face.”
Lefevere has returned to stoke the flames this week, insisting that all the things he mentioned in his interview with La Dernière Heure, he’d already mentioned to Alaphilippe instantly.
“That dialog did happen. His spouse and his agent had been even there,” Lefevere advised Sporza (opens in new tab).
“I advised him he could not maintain hiding behind diseases and falls. That is the chilly fact.
“We had a dialog that was full and frank. When you receives a commission like Julian, it is to carry out.”
Alaphilippe begins his 2023 marketing campaign on the Problem Mallorca on Wednesday and struck a extra diplomatic tone when pressed on the matter on the eve of the race.
“Patrick and I’ve at all times been very clear with one another. That has been the case from the start,” he mentioned.
“That was the case when issues went effectively and it’s now additionally the case when issues go rather less.
“The statements that Patrick has made won’t change my method of working and my motivation.”
Alaphilippe started his profession with QuickStep in 2014 after coming by way of the staff’s growth setup. His expertise shone by way of in his early years however he actually hit his stride with two stage wins within the 2018 Tour de France, which led to victories at Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, two straight world titles, and 4 extra Tour de France levels.
His second season within the rainbow jersey in 2022 was beset by crashes and unhealthy luck, with a string of great accidents sustained at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the end forcing him to overlook the Tour. He rebounded however dislocated his shoulder on the Vuelta a España, which ruined the again finish of his marketing campaign and left him with simply two victories for the 12 months.
Regardless of the general public feedback from his staff boss, Alaphilippe insists he’s not feeling any undue stress to rediscover outcomes of outdated.
“I wish to do all the things I can to place all the things proper once more. However that doesn’t imply that I really feel further stress. I’ve by no means even began a season so relaxed and liberated,” he mentioned.
“Within the winter I used to be capable of neglect about biking for some time. I frolicked with my household to search out myself once more. I do not know if it is as a result of I do not put on the rainbow jersey anymore or as a result of I’ve such a very good winter behind me, however I do not really feel any stress in any respect. I am simply tremendous motivated.”