History is written by the victors. One of Winston Churchill’s most famous maxims also applies to two-pedal sports. After a show marathon on the streets of Flanders, Julian Alaphilippe took back the rainbow shirt of the world champion. For the second year in a row, the Frenchman sprinted alone to glory.
Sunday’s race was a mix of emotions. From the first pedals, the tension floated in the air, and Alaphilippe, the one we gave as the big favorite, blew up the race. The show was in its place, the only unfortunate drama being given by local heroes. Wout van Aert, the public favorite and the big favorite in the eyes of his Belgians, clicked inexplicably. Even Jasper Stuyven, the B option for Belgium, failed to grab a medal. Sad fate for the country that hoped to finally forget the long curse of the rainbow T-shirt that went to other lands.
Returning to the great hero, Julian Alaphilippe competed with the terrible pressure of an incandescent audience. It is rumored that more than 100,000 people stormed the narrow streets of Flanders. A SF scenario for Romanians, especially due to the growing number of cases of Covid-19 infections, but a reality for Belgians.
Like Alejandro Valverde, with whom he has been compared since the early years of cycling, Julian Alaphilippe gave a magnificent recital, as if, as a classic passed away in our politics, he had given a concert by Rachmaninoff six hands. Well, in his case, Alaphilippe rode Valverdian, as if he had six rows of pedals.
If the first two offensive assaults were easily dismantled by rivals, the third was lethal. A mix between what I once saw in Pantani and Contador, doubled by the tactical intelligence of a Valverde, Froome or even the nameless great Texan sheriff who disappeared from the world cycling catastrophe.
In the end, Alaphilippe once again tasted the rainbow glory of the world title and for another 12 months, he will display his world champion jersey with the well-known French pride. Undoubtedly, his career is at its peak, and as it turns out, Valverd’s success in Flanders will not be the end of the road for Alaphilippe.
But is Alaphilippe really the new Valverde? At the moment, he has the advantage in the number of world titles, the score being 2-1, but until his name is spoken in the same breath as the great Iberian champion, there is still a long way to go and a difficult and difficult road, but no impossible. All we want is to find out that he tasted other juices, as Valverde himself did. Is it a naive hope or a realistic one? Remains to be seen.