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The audacity of Julien Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe rises on the penultimate step of The Plank of the Beautiful Girls, through a cloud of dust and swirling headlights, alone in the frame. Within the narrow gap between his arrival and Geraint's, Thomas had a moment when everything seemed possible. Even Julian Alaphilippe winning the Tour de France.

Julian Alaphilippe will not win the Tour de France.

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A classic man came on the Tour de France and ran as he had nothing to lose. That's why he wins. Audacity is an asset and not a handicap in the racing world of Julian Alaphilippus.

He left too early on the road to Epernay two days ago, because he said: "The legs did not feel too bad, so I went there." Also simple as that. He needed 30 seconds, he had it, held it and took the first French yellow jersey since Tony Gallopin. The word "panache" is overworked, his back is broken in the field of cycling literature, but since he is French and he is French, I can not think of a better way of saying it.

"I will continue to do things my way," he said after the internship.

At the first real mountain stage of the Tour de France, his path was to sit down with the best mountaineers in the world in one of the steepest climbs of this year's race, then attack them. Only Thomas and Thibaut Pinot could recover it.

Bold runners win big bike races. They win Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo and Flèche Wallonne. They do not win the Tour de France. This has been imposed on us: the need for a conservative constituency, restraint, control. A strong team. The last two decades have been defined by a style of winner of the Tour de France who wins as much thanks to what he does not do than he does.

The race is too close now. It's too composed. There are too many details, too many teams paying attention to too much detail, so that if you do not pay attention to details, you might as well not try.

All runners say they participate in the Tour day after day, but Alaphilippe does. Until now, he did not seem to think about saving energy today to be able to use it in three days. Geraint Thomas certainly has.

Julian Alaphilippe could win the Tour de France.

Can you win the Tour without thinking about tomorrow, today?

Julian Alaphilippe will not win the Tour de France.

It is quite reasonable to think that Alaphilippe could be transformed in the same way as Dan Martin. From a master of the Ardennes to a Grand Tour competitor; climber puncher. But he must want it. And it's not entirely clear that he does it or wants it.

If professional cyclists are all monks, living without some deference to a higher goal, the Tour competitor is a special type of devotee; who swears to talk for a year or who will never wear shoes in his life. He meditates, prays, aspires more than others, more ardently, more desperately. The life of the Tour candidate is devolved to something bigger than him. Is Alaphilippe ready for this?

He can climb with the best once. Does he have the patience to keep and do it again? And even?

Alaphilippe will discover during this tour if it is worth it. He will know it when leaving the Pyrenees after a series of much longer slopes than today. After the suitors have spent a week looking at him as an equal and not as an impostor; after they follow him, and he tries to follow them. After the yellow jersey match that he plays, he becomes more and more serious, and there is pressure, real pressure, the kind of pressure specifically reserved for French hopes, which turns them into dust or diamonds and nothing else

Julian Alaphilippe win the Tour de France? I think it can.

He will not do it.

But he could.

And it would not be fun.

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