The French have been waiting for this moment for a long time. 1985, more precisely, after the fifth victory of the rider Bernard Hinault. Since that date, no Frenchman has won the general classification of the Tour de France. Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Lance Armstrong, Christopher Froome… Since 1985, French spectators have been condemned to watch foreign stars pass by, while secretly dreaming of the return of the great champion.

This dream of the great champion could become a reality, in the person of Julian Alaphilippe. This 27-year-old French cyclist, born in Saint-Amand-Montrond, in the Cher, stood out by winning fourteen yellow jerseys during the 2019 edition of the Tour de France.

“That’s champion seed!” According to legend, these are the first words of Marie-Thérèse, the midwife who helped Julian Alaphilippe’s mother give birth on June 11, 1992.

As a child, he wanted to become a drummer or a mechanic. He finally started cycling at the age of eight, and received his first bicycle as a gift at eleven. This is a used model with quite a few kilometers on the clock. A bike “very rotten, ten times too big”, confides the current yellow jersey. But for him, born in a popular environment, “it was a Ferrari”, he says.

A fan of cyclo-cross in his youth, he won the silver medal at the 2010 junior world championship in this discipline. That year, a knee injury led him to consider quitting cycling. Then 18 years old, Julian Alaphilippe joined the Army team where he could be treated and where he signed up for three years. He obtained his first results in 2011 by winning La Gainsbarre, then finishing two years later in the top 5 of the Tour de Bretagne stage. He became French cyclo-cross hopefuls champion in 2012 and 2013 and since then, nothing can stop him.

Besides his sporting performances, Julian Alaphilippe’s style and personality attract attention. The man comes across as funny, likeable and extremely simple, despite his many successes. On July 20, when the French rider won an additional stage, Emmanuel Macron rushed to congratulate him on his victory. Julian Alaphilippe then struggles to keep his seriousness and grimaces in front of the cameras.

When his coach sends him a training program, he tends to minimize the kilometers to cover, because he knows that Julian will cover a lot more. “I don’t need to analyze to the millimeter what I do, what I drink, what I eat. I love cycling as I have always practiced it, listening to my desire and my instinct.”, assures Julian Alaphilippe.

On his Twitter account, the one nicknamed “Loulou” has also staged surrounded by croissants and pain au chocolat. These eating habits have also made the misfortune of his team. “He wasn’t paying too much attention to his diet and once, when he had had dinner, I surprised him in his room about to swallow a slice of Nutella. She didn’t have time to go down in his stomach. I took it out of his mouth!” Reveals one of his former teammates.

The organizers of the critériums have worked hard to offer the best possible field to this champion, once the biggest race in the world is over. But the cyclist stood out by refusing these many requests, despite the rather juicy stamps that were offered to him. An unusual refusal, the criteria can be quite lucrative for cyclists.

Nicolas Portal, the French sporting director of Thomas’ team, nevertheless seems to have chosen his favourite: “It will flatter Julian but I don’t think Geraint could have gone faster. And Julian’s performance… incredible, both better, I stay French at the base so it’s good. We will know more tomorrow, today we knew he could win, “he confided!

Asked about his chances of winning, Julian Alaphilippe once again remained modest: “I don’t want to dream,” he temporized. A bad surprise nevertheless came to spoil the party. The French rider has indeed ceded his place as leader in the general classification at the end of the 19th stage. The yellow jersey now goes to Colombian Egan Bernal, who is 40 seconds ahead of the Frenchman… Julian Alaphilippe nevertheless retains a chance of winning the competition during the Albertville-Val-Thorens stage, 130 km of mountain roads located in the heart of the Alps.