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Commenting about the French rider who has been his team-mate since 2014, Mark Cavendish has given a big sign of support to Julian Alaphilippe, believing that he has the mentality and drive to be a very successful pro rider.
Alaphilippe was for many the revelation of the Ardennes Classics, netting seventh in the Amstel Gold Race, second in Flèche Wallonne and then finishing as runner-up in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Those performances, coupled with his earlier rides in other races plus his young age, have marked him out as a major talent.
“I really like him,” said Cavendish, when asked about the Frenchman at the Presidential Tour of Turkey. “Since he has started in the team, there is something about him. He has got a winner’s attitude on him.”
Alaphilippe certainly showed that in Belgium, refusing to be intimidated by the bigger names and showing clear frustration when he was beaten into second place in the two events.
Although he is just 22 years of age, he already wants to be the best and believes it is within his capabilities.
Cavendish said that this drive and self belief is reminiscent of an earlier version of the Manxman.
“Not in riding style but definitely in his personality he reminds me of myself when I was young,” he said. He then added with a smile – and to the laughs of those listening – “there is a little bit of asshole in there.
“I really like it. You can see…obviously his riding style is different to mine, but in his mentality I really see him with a big career.”
He added that he was not surprised at his Ardennes success last week.
Alaphilippe showed his potential as an amateur with results such as first on stages of the Ville Saguenay nations cup race, the Under 23 Thuringen Rundfahrt, the Tour de l’Avenir and the Tour de Bretagne. He also notched up a top ten finish in the under 23 world road race championships.
Those performances attracted the attention of the-then Omega Pharma QuickStep team, now Etixx-QuickStep. He made his debut in 2014 and impressed with a stage win, the best young rider award and the points classification in the Tour de l’Ain, third in the RideLondon Classic and fifth in the GP Ouest France WorldTour event.
This year has been even better with those Ardennes Classics runner-up slots and second plus fifth on stages of the Volta a Catalunya.
Cavendish is certainly impressed, both by the performances and also the rider’s approach. Time will tell, of course, but the enthusiastic endorsement of the Manxman and likening to his own mentality will give Alaphilippe’s supporters further encouragement.