Tour de France 2019: Julian Alaphilippe expects to be treated 'differently'

Julian Alaphilippe
Julian Alaphilippe says the general classification is "not a priority" for him

Julian Alaphilippe says he will be a marked man at this year's Tour de France as he looks to replicate his spectacular successes of a year ago.

The 27-year-old Frenchman won the King of the Mountains classification at last year's Tour as well as two individual stages, and is the top-ranked male road rider in the world.

"I think the peloton might treat me differently this year - it will be more difficult to be comfortable in the breakaway," Alaphilippe told BBC Radio 5 Live's BeSpoke podcast.

"A lot riders know me now, and they know I can sprint, that I can climb.

"Some riders don't want to pull 100% with me. But it's part of the game. I've had a lot of wins already this year so I will try to be focused.

"The Tour is a special race for every rider, but especially for me.

"When I became a professional it was a dream to ride the Tour, and to perform so well last year was a wonderful feeling - it's made me even more motivated this year."

Alaphilippe has enjoyed a brilliant 2019, winning the one-day classic Strade Bianche and then his first Monument, Milan-San Remo, with a typically audacious move on the Poggio, the final climb of the day.

But he will not attempt to make the jump to contesting a yellow jersey that bookmakers have as a battle between the twin leaders of Team Ineos - reigning champion Geraint Thomas and brilliant young Colombian Egan Bernal.

It is 34 years since a Frenchman won the general classification at the Tour, although with four-time champion Chris Froome missing after his high-speed crash in June, it is a more open race than for several years.

Alaphilippe said: "The GC is not a priority for me at this point in my career, but maybe one day it will be.

"I'm more focused on helping the team, winning a stage and maybe the polka-dot jersey once again.

"It's a really hard Tour again. I'm hopeful for the French riders, because it would be great to have a Frenchman in the yellow jersey - for the sport in the country, for the fans."

The Tour begins on Saturday with a Grand Depart from Brussels, marking 50 years since the first Tour victory of legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx.