Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere was on hand in Imola, Italy, on Sunday to watch his rider Julian Alaphilippe take victory for France in the elite men's road race at the World Championships, and told Belgian media that he'd "never seen as many men crying as I did today".
"He went at the perfect time, and no one could follow him," Lefevere told Sporza of Alaphilippe's winning attack going over the final climb of the Cima Gallisterna with 12km left to race.
"I was afraid that they would still ride behind him, and that Primož Roglič [Slovenia] might have closed the gap, but I don't think anyone could do any more than they did.
"I was the most afraid of Wout van Aert, but there was a rider that was better," he added, with Alaphilippe proving the strongest, finishing 24 seconds ahead of Belgium's Van Aert, with Switerland's Marc Hirschi taking the final step on the podium.
"There are few riders who can follow Julian on those kinds of slopes," said Lefevere. "He reacted very emotionally afterwards, and couldn't stop crying. 'Are you proud of me?' he kept saying. And of course I am, although I don't think I've seen as many men crying as I did today because my entire team staff was here."
Alaphilippe will now wear the rainbow jersey for Deceuninck-QuickStep for the next 12 months, starting with the defence of his Flèche Wallonne title in Belgium on Wednesday.
"I love that jersey," Lefevere added, who last had a road race world champion in the rainbow stripes in his squad courtesy of Poland's Michał Kwiatkowski, who won the title in 2014, and who finished fourth on Sunday.
"We still remain a Belgian team with Flemish sponsors," Lefevre said of Deceuninck-QuickStep. "It will give a powerful feeling that we'll soon be able to ride all those [rescheduled] Classics with the world champion.
"Julian was already the best one-day cyclist in the world last year. He'll certainly make a very nice world champion."
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