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Julian Alaphilippe has left the Tour de Suisse to return home for the birth of his first child with former racer and television commentator Marion Rousse, the Deceuninck-QuickStep team have confirmed. 

The world champion finished second to Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) in Saturday’s mountain time trial and moved up to third overall at just 39 seconds. However, as part of an agreed move with the Belgian team, Alaphilippe will not start Sunday’s final stage so he can be present at his child’s birth which is expected to be on Monday. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere and directeur sportif Rick van Slycke had already confirmed his withdrawal was carefully planned and agreed.

“We decided on Friday that he will return home after the time trial to be at the birth of his child,” van Slycke told l’Equipe

Alaphilippe opted to ride the Tour de Suisse for the first time, swapping the Swiss race for the Critérium du Dauphiné to give him extra racing closer to the start of the Tour de France. He was as aggressive as ever early in the race but was unable to beat Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who won stages 2 and 3. 

Lefevere was not concerned about a lack of a victory by his team leader, convinced Alaphilippe will be at his best for an attacking role at the Tour, while doubts remain about the fitness of sprinter Sam Bennett.  

“Julian was no match for Mathieu van der Poel in the first stages, but I’m not too worried about that,” Lefevere said in his column with Het Nieuwsblad.   

“He will have a problem if the Tour starts tomorrow, but we still have two weeks. I see Julian racing in Switzerland like in last year’s Tour. Wild, without consultation, but always à fond. Last year the Tour was his preparation for the World Cup. Now Switzerland is preparing for the Tour.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Stephen Farrand
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