Julian Alaphilippe retained his title of world cycling champion on Sunday in Louvain, in Flandria. He will wear the rainbow jersey for a second year in a row, having already won the title in Imola, Italy, in 2020.
He showered the enthusiasm of the Belgian public! Julian Alaphilippe was crowned for the second time in a row world champion in road cycling, Sunday, September 26, in Leuven. The 29-year-old Frenchman won solo after a decisive attack 17 km from the finish.
He is the first Frenchman to win two titles since the first world championship in 1927. A rare feat: only seven runners have won a world championship title two years in a row. Slovak sprinter Peter Sagan has kept the rainbow jersey for three consecutive seasons. “Never two without three, you never know”, commented Julian Alaphilippe at the microphone of France TV.
The Belgians in check
The Dutchman Dylan van Baarle took second place, about 30 seconds behind, ahead of the Dane Michael Valgren and the Belgian Jasper Stuyven.
In front of a huge crowd, present throughout the 268.3 kilometer course between Antwerp and Louvain, Julian Alaphilippe signed the tenth French victory in the flagship event of the Worlds.
Winner of the first stage and yellow jersey of the Tour de France at the start of the summer, Alaphilippe claimed his fourth victory of the season, a year after his first world triumph at Imola.
He inflicted a major defeat on the Belgian team who staked everything on the big favorite, Wout van Aert, for whom Remco Evenepoel turned into a luxury teammate in contrast to his behavior at the Tokyo Olympics.
And Alaphilippe dynamited the peloton at 58 km from the finish
The race, exciting, ignited … 178 km from the finish, on an attack from the French who had already ignited some sparks. Remco Evenepoel reacted to an attack by Benoît Cosnefroy and was joined by a strong group – with Cort, Roglic, Tratnik, Asgreen, Démare – which forced Italy to assume the pursuit alone for almost an hour.
The Belgian then joined in another breakaway of 11 riders initiated by Valentin Madouas. He thus served as a fulcrum for Van Aert when Alaphilippe blasted the peloton 58 km from the finish and caused the selection of a group of favorites, without Pogacar – the winner of the Tour de France.
With three representatives for Belgium, France and Italy but only one for Denmark (Valgren), Slovenia (Mohoric) and Great Britain (Pidcock), the group of 17 riders condemned the peloton. Alaphilippe attacked twice and tackled the last lap (15 km) alone in the lead moments after taking the lead.
Behind the defending champion, a quartet (Powless, Valgren, Stuyven, van Baarle) dropped ballast while Van Aert remained alongside his great rivals, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel and the Italian Sonny Colbrelli, the recent European champion who finally ranked 10e.