Michal Kwiatkowski summed up perfectly the feeling in Imola at the World Championships and across much of the sport after Julian Alaphilippe won the world title with a gutsy solo attack. The Frenchman set-up his world title win, as he so often does, attacking all-out on the final climb and then blasting to victory. Kwiatkowski was beaten by Switzerland's Marc Hirschi by just a few centimetres and so missed out on the bronze medal, yet his appreciation for Alaphilippe's panache outweighed his own disappointment.
"There are some regrets that we were not fighting for the rainbow at the end of the day but I’m super happy for Julian," Kwiatkowski told Cyclingnews.
"For sure he was the stronger, he’s always a guy with a great attitude. He’s always happy and the way Alaphilippe wins races is always nice to watch. I’m happy for him."
Kwiatkowski won the world title in 2014 with a similar solo attack in Ponferrada. He knew he had gone close to victory again in Imola.
"Finishing in fourth place is not the best result. I missed the medal by a few centimetres, I was not able to outsprint Hirschi," he said.
"It was super close, the rainbow jersey was in range. I did really believe that we could catch Julian; he was just in front of us. But he was the strongest guy."
Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe have often attacked each other on the Poggio and battled for victory at Milan-San Remo. This time Alaphilippe produced the perfect attack; got away alone and dived down the descent to victory.
"Maybe if I'd waited or something for his move, I could have had a chance, because I actually I moved myself. But it was too far from the top and then his acceleration was much stronger than mine," he explained.
"What can I say? That’s it. I was happy about my condition. The other guys from the Polish national team rode really well, so I was always protected in the front 20-30. That was really important today."
“It was one of those days that’s was so hard that everybody was pretty cautious with the moves. It perhaps looked kind of steady but we were pushing threshold speeds on all of those climbs and everybody was waiting for the last lap. But as you could see with [Tadej] Pogačar, that was way too far to stay away. There were still some nations with numbers in the front so it was pretty difficult to do anything before."
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