Julian Alaphilippe, who spent 11 days in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in July, has won the Vélo d’Or, awarded annually by Vélo magazine to the man it considers to be the best cyclist of the year.
France was gripped over the summer as the performances of the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, and until he abandoned those of Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, let fans dream of a first home Tour de France victory since Bernard Hinault won the last of his five titles in 1985.
It wasn’t to be, but Alaphilippe’s two stage wins, including a stunning victory in yellow in the individual time trial in Pau, and his defence of the race lead which he lost on Stage 19 on a day when the stage was shortened due to a hailstorm and mudslides, will live long in the memory.
Tour de France winner Egan Bernal was named runner-up, while Primoz Roglic, who won the Vuelta, was third, despite topping the UCI WorldTour ranking for the year some distance ahead of Alaphilippe.
While his emergence as a three-week Grand Tour contender helps explain Alaphilippe winning the Vélo d’Or, a hugely successful Spring Classics campaign also played a role.
The 27-year-old from Saint-Amand-Montrond, a small town almost smack bang in the geographical centre of France, followed up success at Strade Bianche in March with victory in Milan-San Remo a fortnight later.
In between those two races, he won two stages at Tirreno-Adriatico, then in April successfully defended his Fleche Wallonne title.
He also won stages at the Tour of the Basque Country and the Criterium du Dauphiné, topping the mountains classification in the latter.
Alaphilippe becomes only the second French winner of the Vélo d’Or, which was first awarded in 1992.
Laurent Jalabert won it in 1995, a year in which he won Milan-San Remo and the Fleche Wallonne as well as the overall titles at Paris-Nice and the Vuelta.
Last year, Alaphilippe was third in the voting, with Alejandro Valverde winning the trophy ahead of Geraint Thomas.
Two British riders have won the Vélo d’Or, the first being Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012, with Chris Froome victorious in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.