Julian Alaphilippe said that if he had lost his rainbow jersey at the World Championships it would have been "a certain form of relief," as he felt the pressure to perform in the stripes this season.
The Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider was clearly the strongest rider in the race around the town of Leuven and the hills of Flanders as he put in wave after wave of attacks throughout the last 40km.
Speaking to l'Equipe (opens in new tab), Alaphilippe said: "Without being defeatist, I was prepared to lose the jersey,
"I also know what it cost me. It took up a lot of energy. It made me make some mistakes sometimes, through my impatience to win, by wanting to show the jersey all the time, to honour it, to make it shine as best I could. It took a lot out of me, and it was also a lot of pressure that I put on myself."
Alaphilippe has been consistent as ever this season, with solid early form including podium in Strade Bianche, a win in Tirreno-Adriatico before heading to the Classics where he won Flèche Wallone.
After it was onto the Tour de Suisse which he abandoned to be with his wife as she was giving birth to their first child. He then started the Tour de France, winning the opening stage and taking yellow, after that he went to the Tour of Britain, coming third over
“So I said to myself," continued Alaphilippe. ‘We’re coming here to win, but if I lose the jersey, it will also be a certain form of relief.
"But at the same time, I was starting a race and I wanted to win it. So you go for the jersey: it's for history, the most beautiful jersey in cycling. And so you go for it. It’s hard to describe."
Alaphilippe went on to say that racing in the French jersey without the rainbow bands liberated him: "It's hard to explain, but I was much more relaxed,"
The Frenchman is currently down to race the final Monument of the year in Il Lombardia on Saturday, October 9 where he will race in the rainbow bands once again.
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