Julian Alaphilippe triumphed in the road race at the World Cycling Championships on Sunday after a year. The Frenchman decided to defend himself thanks to several attacks, which divided the field and eventually went into a solo escape. Former cyclist Lubor Tesař comments on the performance of Alaphilipp and the seventh place of Zdeněk Štybar, who was not far from a medal game and who will have the popular “Hell of the North” in six days.
Julian Alaphilippe defended his victory at the World Cup, he will continue to drive a rainbow jersey. How much success is in your eyes?
It’s a great piece. We have seen it twice in the recent past by Peter Sagan, otherwise only Paolo Bettini did it after 2000. It’s unbelievable, but it was clear that Alaphilippe was clearly the best on the hill. The profile at this year’s and last year’s World Championships absolutely suited him. I didn’t trust him that much last year, the hill seemed too hard for him. This year, he confirmed again that in terms of short and steep hills, he is the most aggressive rider in the world.
At the same time, he was able to cope with the pressure associated with the defense.
Well, I’d rather turn it around here. (smile) He was not under pressure because he had a rainbow jersey while the others tried to get it. The home Belgians in particular were under pressure, and many other riders longed for a leotard. However, with his first appearance on the dice, Alaphilippe showed everyone who was the master that day. In the end, it was clearly the best, also considering how difficult the race was made by the Belgians and the French in particular. The conclusion was clearly moral, everyone was raking to the bottom.
Can it be said that Alaphilippe is almost invincible in classic races? When he is cool and when his profile fits.
Probably yes. You need to have a team with you, the French had it under control yesterday, so to speak. They kept attacking and making it hard for other teams, some leaders had to ride each other 120 or 100 kilometers before the finish. But when it’s a fair, Alaphilippe is the strongest. At the time of his greatest glory, perhaps Sagan or Fabian Cancellara, now in the top form of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, would suffice. But for Van der Poel, the long outage he had before the World Cup was decisive, and Van Aert did not have optimal well-being and good legs.
How do you rate Zdeněk Štybar’s seventh place? As an excellent result, but where does one “but” remain?
When you don’t win or win a medal, there is always a “but”. However, it is a race, there are a lot of those moments and Zdeněk evaluated it like this with the decisive escape 17 kilometers before the end. Van Aert, Van der Poel or Thomas Pidcock, the biggest stars, stayed seated. Zdeněk stuck with them and probably relied on one of them to want to fight for the title. He used to board, he can’t be with everything. But he himself is aware that at that moment he was behind the escaping Michael Valgren and was to get up with him, to try to leave.
Stybar believed that the big favorites who were there with him would still attack, but you also immediately said on TV that it was done.
It was clear. Van Aert hung on top alone and had compatriot Jasper Stuyven in front of him, whom he did not want to commute. Van der Poel had Dylan van Baarle in front again. In my opinion, Zdeněk did not read it correctly, he should have reacted. If Van Aert had it, he would rise behind Alaphilipp on the hill and try to shade him. He did not do it. Zdeněk’s only mistake, but unfortunately affected the fact that he lost the chance to win a medal.
How big would that be? How did Stybar look to you?
These are just speculations, but he looked great in the hills when he started. He was strong, he could react. Then at the end he disengaged from the group with Van der Poel and finished seventh. If he left with Valgren, the chances of a medal would be decent. I’m not saying that he would divide the group, there would probably be a spurt, but Zdeněk is definitely not slow. Plus, it was spurt uphill.
The race measured over 268 kilometers. Isn’t it too long a route?
We saw that it wasn’t much. Being 15 kilometers shorter, nothing would probably happen, but given the pace at which the racers were able to drive, I think it’s fine. The strongest riders and nationalities made it a completely selective race. If it was 200 kilometers, on many tracks it would not be enough for the best to show what they can do.
One week after the end of the World Championships, the translated classic Paris-Roubaix is taking place. Did Stybar now send a message after the season in which he was suffering from health problems that he had to be reckoned with?
He sent a wonderful message. In addition, he has the huge advantage of riding in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team with a recent world champion who is doing well. Alaphilippe will definitely be one of those who would like to help Zdeněk win the Paris-Roubaix victory.
Stybar was already in the top ten six times in Roubaix, twice second. It’s his favorite classic.
I believe he can succeed. I admit that after Zdeněk’s health problems I was more of a skeptic. I wondered if he could get back in shape. I said the same thing to Petr Vakoč after his severe fall. But they both showed that they were champions, and it was great what they showed yesterday. Petr also managed to reach the finish line, it was great.