'Remco Evenepoel was the best man in the race after Julian Alaphilippe': Lefevere baffled by Belgian tactics at World Championships

The Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss is happy to keep the rainbow jersey in the team but questions the Belgians' ride

Remco Evenepoel riding hard on the front of the UCI World Championships road race in Leuven, Belgium
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Patrick Lefevere says that the Belgian tactics used in the World Championships elite men's road race meant that Remco Evenepoel ended up riding for Julian Alaphilippe, saying they "played into Julian's hands."

Lefevere believed that Evenepoel was the best rider on the course after Alaphilippe, leaving him confused, asking "why did they throw Remco into the fray so early?"

Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Lefevere's team, keeps the rainbow jersey for another 12 months on the shoulders of Alaphilippe, praising his other French rider Florian Sénéchal too after he took a respectable ninth place.

>>> Road World Championships 2021: Strava data shows brutality of race around Flanders

Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab), Lefevere said: "I know: it's easy to talk afterwards. And anyway it is not easy to race for your own people. Yet, why did the Belgians want to break open the race so early? And above all, why did they throw Remco into the fray so early? For me, Remco was the best man in the race after Julian. But they just sacrificed him and rolled out the red carpet for Julian. 

"It is no coincidence that we only saw Alaphilippe and Sénéchal in the final. The French were continuously present with many riders and did not have to do anything."

Lefevere wasn't sure on Alaphilippe's condition when the Frenchman decided to launch an attack with around 40km to go, which turned out to be the first of many explosive moves.

"When he gave up some chips at about forty kilometres from the finish, I certainly realised that it could go both ways," Lefevere said. 

“Typical Julian," he said. "Either it means he's super good, or he's bad and he's just trying. It was very clear that it was the first." 

Alaphilippe, Sénéchal and Evenepoel weren't the only Deceuninck - Quick-Step riders to put in a good ride. Czech rider Zdeněk Štybar took a very strong seventh on a course that suited his attributes perfectly.

Lefevere even suggested on Belgian TV channel, VTM, that Evenepoel rode for Alaphilippe.

He explained: "By which I mainly meant that the way in which they let Evenepoel race completely played into Julian's hands."

It is not yet known when or where Alaphilippe will next race, but puncheurs or climbers will often debut their rainbow jersey at the final Monument of the year, Il Lombardia, which takes place in October.

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