Jasper Philipsen is heading towards another important season, as he returns to World Tour level in the lead of Alpecin-Deceuninck with the goal of obtaining several more stage wins in the sprints throughout the year.
“It was a good step to leave for a team that focuses on sprints and classics," Philipsen admitted in an interview with TopCycling.pt. "We don't have a rider for the Grand Tours and that makes the difference because when we do we can focus on competing in stages.”
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Philipsen left UAE Team Emirates at the end of 2020, and has since become one of the best sprinters in the world. Wins at the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and several high-level races have followed as the Belgian had more focused on him in a team that took the flat terrain and classics much more seriously.
He states that his victory at the Champs-Elysées at the Tour de France, which he obtained this past summer, “will last for the rest of his life and of which I can be proud," and this year he will return to the Tour in search of more success. By his side should be Mathieu van der Poel aswell who will return to a more traditional calendar this season.
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"I'm ambitious and I hope it's the start of a good run at the Tour de France. The team is ambitious, they like to win the biggest races. I have many goals like trying to be world, European, national champion… one day," he continues. "A Monument and a World Championship are career goals, but so is a green jersey at the Tour de France. If you get at least one of the items on the list, that would be good.”
Alongside him this year will be Kaden Groves. Philipsen has also won a key leadout men in Ramon Sinkeldam this year who he will hope will further help him in the sprints. The 24-year old has in the past lacked enough support in some sprints, but has simultaneously developed a strong positioning capacity.
Philipsen will start his season in the opening weekend with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He will have plenty goals within the spring. A tailor-made schedule sees him in only high-level races, but he will have opportunities to succeed in all of them.
“It would be a big step to try to win or be competitive. It's hard to win a Monument, first let's try the classics and see if a Monument is possible. Milan-Sanremo and Gent-Wevelgem are tough races that adapt to me," he admits.
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Milano-Sanremo specially, as the sprinters' monument, is one where Philipsen has his eye particularly. Although in recent history late attackers and puncheurs have taken most wins, the Belgian has the climbing ability to fight for a top result.
“I still have a lot of gas in the tank and I shouldn't have any problems, but it's a special race where you have the stress of a Monument. It can also alter sensations. We will see if my ambitions are realistic for Milan-Sanremo," Philipsen states.
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Asked about his collaboration with Mathieu van der Poel, he adds: “Mathieu is a good team player, stronger than me in the toughest races, while I am stronger closing the sprint. He has many qualities, it depends on the goals he has and how to reconcile with mine. We've never had any problems and in the future I'd say we won't either."