The 29-year-old French rider of Deceuninck – Quick-Step on his perfect day in Leuven.
“Coming to the World Championships, I was very relaxed and looking forward to doing a strong race for my team. Our plan was to go with Florian in case of a sprint, while I had the freedom to attack. That’s what I did, the first time with around 60 kilometers to go, when only a couple of riders followed. Then, as we entered the penultimate lap, our strategy was to counter any moves that would come, but I sensed an opportunity and rode on instinct.”
“I felt good the entire day, but I never imagined I would be alone at the front with more than one lap to go, but as soon as there was some distance between myself and my opponents, I rode my heart out to remain at the front. I knew I had good legs, but there were still plenty of kilometers left to the finish, so I had to dig deep and remain focused. I just stopped thinking and rode full gas.”
“Those last 20 kilometers were really painful and I left everything out there. When I arrived at the finish, I just couldn’t believe it. To retain my rainbow jersey – the most beautiful jersey in cycling – was incredible and I needed a lot of time to realize what had happened.”
“It was an amazing victory that wouldn’t have been possible without my fantastic teammates. They protected me the whole day, did a superb job and played it perfectly in the final part of the race. That win was special, a memory I will happily recount to my little boy. Winning the World Championships for the second consecutive year is one of the most important achievements of my career and I can’t wait to show my jersey again and honor it in every race I will do with the Wolfpack!”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images