‘No regrets’ for Julian Alaphilippe as rainbow jersey reign comes to an end at Wollongong

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Julian Alaphilippe ended his two seasons in the rainbow jersey on Sunday with all the panache he has shown throughout his world title reign.

The two-time world road champion hailed his successor Remco Evenepoel and hailed the efforts of a full-strength French assault as Blues was looking to clinch a third consecutive men’s elite world title in Wollongong.

“We have no regrets because the fittest has won,” said Alaphilippe the team. “But we are always second [with Christophe Laporte] and that’s a good second place. We had a great team, we had a good race, we created movement, we were where we needed to be.

Laporte won the peloton sprint for silver to score France the best possible result after Evenepoel escaped for another unstoppable solo TT on Sunday.

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The young Belgian’s win left Alaphilippe with mixed emotions as his nation was bowled over by a Cannibalesqe ride from trade teammate Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.

“It was not anyone in front. It is no coincidence that Remco won. He was very strong and not just today. He had an extraordinary season,” said Alaphilippe. “I’m very, very happy for him and that the shirt stays in the [Quick-Step] crew.”

Laporte: “We can be happy with this silver medal”

Laporte put the Frenchman on the podium with his sprint for second place.

The France team were active all day on Sunday as they looked to take the run from strength.

Riders like Benoît Cosnefroy and Valentin Madouas forced gaps in the early hours of the race and then contributed to the accelerations that allowed Evenepoel to escape with around 20 others later in the day.

France coach Thomas Voeckler said on arrival it seemed inevitable the irrepressible Evenepoel would pull something special on Sunday.

Laporte’s silver medal in the chasing group was something of a victory after team captain Alaphilippe struggled for form in the twilight of a season littered with illness, injury and lost time.

“You can’t win every time. Julian updated us quite quickly on his condition, he was fine but not as good as usual,” Laporte said.

“I understood that he didn’t want to take any risks by making us work when he wasn’t sure of his legs. He wanted to help us, but we couldn’t do much for Remco.

“Nobody should have any regrets, we have no reason to complain. Of course, we still hoped to win but we can be satisfied with this silver medal.

Alaphilippe: “It will make me appreciate the moments I spent with this jersey even more”

Alaphilippe has been committed to the “total race” throughout his two seasons as world champion. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Wollongong draws back the curtain on 24 glittering months for Alaphilippe.

The Frenchman made a perfect fit for his striped top with rip-snorter races that took six victories in the rainbow stripes, including a stage victory and a yellow jersey in the Tour de France of the last year.

Alaphilippe has pledged to wreak havoc with all-out racing during his tenure as world champion. Evenepoel’s bull run for Belgium on Sunday is likely to continue the trend as Alaphilippe passes the rainbow baton.

“For me, it’s a mix of a lot of emotions. I had taken the time to imagine myself without a rainbow jersey next week. It’s already rare to have been able to enjoy it for two years, there is a time for everything, ”said Alaphilippe.

“It will make me appreciate the times I spent in this shirt even more.”

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