FRENCH star and reigning UCI road world champion Julian Alaphilippe will return to Devon's roads in the Tour of Britain next week for the first time since winning the UK’s leading race in 2018.

Alaphilippe will lead the Belgian Deceuninck – Quick-Step team in the Tour of Britain alongside home favourite Mark Cavendish, whose participation in the eight-day race (Sunday, September 5 to 12) was announced earlier this month.

One of the most loved riders in the peloton today, Alaphilippe has a perfect record in the Tour, having claimed the race’s overall title in his sole participation in the event to date.

He also won stage three of the 2018 Tour in Bristol, a victory that sits alongside six Tour de France stage victories and successes in prestigious one-day races such as Milan – Sanremo, Flèche Wallonne and Strade Bianche. By virtue of his victory in the UCI World Championships in Imola last year, Alaphilippe will be easily recognisable to the many spectators who line the route owing to the historic rainbow jersey that he is entitled to wear.

‘I am really looking forward to racing the Tour of Britain, which will be my last in the rainbow jersey, that I have been so proud to wear for the last 12 months,’ said Alaphilippe.

‘I had a successful race in Britain the last time I was there in 2018, and I know it will be a hard-fought race this time.

‘It will be the perfect race for me to take on, ahead of the world championships. We come here with a strong team and will look to race hard, as we always do.’

Alaphilippe’s famed attacking prowess will automatically make him one of the favourites for the 2021 Tour of Britain, which begins in Cornwall on Sunday, September 5, and includes a hill-top finish on the Great Orme, Llandudno (stage four). The 2021 champion will be crowned in Aberdeen on Sunday 12 September. Live coverage will be available on ITV4 in the UK, as well as in over 150 countries worldwide.