In an interview with Cyclingnews, Jasper Philipsen reflected on his exemplary 2023 season, which saw the Belgian cyclist notch up an impressive 20 victories, including a quartet of stage wins at the Tour de France and grabbing the coveted green jersey in the points classification. Philipsen modestly acknowledged his success, pondering on what it truly means to be the best sprinter – whether it’s simply about being the fastest or if success requires a blend of speed, strategy, positioning, and team support.
Philipsen’s 2023 victories also extended to the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium, an exhibition race where he claimed victory ahead of Mark Cavendish and Tadej Pogačar in the showpiece event. Caleb Ewan, one of his notable sprint rivals, had already pointed to Philipsen as the prime contender even before the Tour de France commenced.
Despite the traditional bravado often associated with sprinters, Philipsen approached these acknowledgements with questions rather than assertions. When probed about whether he currently holds the title of the peloton’s best sprinter, he pondered the complexity of the art of sprinting and contemplated the multifaceted nature of the role, which requires much more than sheer speed.
Philipsen’s versatility shines through not only in powerful bunch sprints but also in his performance across different race types. He has shown as much dedication to the spring Classics as he has to the Tour de France and hinted at the possibility of aiming for world championship glory in the upcoming seasons. Beyond sprinting, Philipsen aspires to wear a championship jersey, a dream he rates quite high on his list of future ambitions.
Although the 2024 Olympics in Paris looms on the horizon, with Belgium boasting of heavy hitters like Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel, Philipsen indicated that the Tour de France remains a priority. He voiced the need for clarity regarding the team’s strategy for the Olympics, whether it would be centred around a single leader or a collective approach.
Philipsen also quipped about the lucky matching colour of his luxury watch to the green jersey he recently won, a darker emerald shade introduced to replace the previous bright shade. He revealed the watch’s colour was more by chance than choice due to availability but shared his long-standing dream of wearing the maillot vert. The achievement was not initially a clear-cut objective for the Tour, but it had been an ambition since his youth, and he is already considering defending it in 2024.
Almost in reminiscence, he mentioned that the pursuit of the green jersey wasn’t a predetermined strategy, but something that grew in significance with each successful sprint and accumulation of points. Philipsen assessed his 2023 campaign with an eight out of ten rating, expressing satisfaction with his performance and the anticipation of aiming higher in subsequent seasons.