'I don't want to become a robot': Julian Alaphilippe's second rainbow jersey is another triumph for pure bike racing

The Frenchman was relentless in the defence of his world title

Julian Alaphilippe
(Image credit: Getty)

Attack being the best form of defence is a tired phrase, but that's exactly what Julian Alaphilippe did to keep the rainbow jersey on his shoulders for another year. 

In his winner's press conference, he put that sentiment more eloquently than the "beautiful" race his French team rode, describing how he rails against the control sometimes exerted in races, a bundle of energy with nowhere to go, he bursts out and into life.

"Since 2014, I'm still the same rider," Alaphilippe says. "I don't want to change anything. I take a lot of pleasure to ride like this, cycling is already a hard sport, I don't want to become a robot. 

"I want to attack, with panache and I want to give everything to try and win and it’s even more beautiful when you have the rainbow jersey on."

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He's the champion cycling deserves. Never stale, always full of character on and off the bike. For him, it's not a job but true, pure pleasure.

"I need time to realise I have another jersey," he continued. "If you know me, I use a lot of energy when I'm in a race because I love it...to race. When I attack I love when there is movement in the race but when you are the rainbow jersey everyone is looking at you when you're not so good."

After 270km where he attacked relentlessly, he is more eloquent than many of the tired journalists sitting in the press room. During the race, one French journalist sat watching one of Alaphilippe's stinging attacks and muttered to his colleagues: "Panache, panache, panache, huh?"

"It was a good day for me," Alaphilippe continued in his assessment of the day. "I felt good really early, I was really happy to ride, simply, it was also my role to try something,  I was not here today to wait for the sprint," that was Florian Sénéchal's job, waiting in the wings for a main part that was always going to be Alaphilippe's.

"When I decided to attack it was something I decided and I gave everything."

In the build-up, Alaphilippe described the pressure he felt in the rainbow jersey and how, in victory, all the pressure melted away.

"I think last year I was ready to win," Alaphilippe admitted of his first rainbow jersey. "It was really my biggest goal when I finished the Tour. I was really focused to win the Worlds, it was amazing to do it. I had a really special year with the rainbow jersey, and to be honest I wasn’t so happy to be in the World Championships today. It was like only one year and now to be focused on something different...

"To be honest, I never imagined I would do more than one lap alone. It was hard for me but I enjoyed the victory."

A popular winner, and for good reason. As he rises from his seat to go and celebrate, the final word is left for the new world champion.

"Thank you and Merry Christmas!"

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.