The green trim around the dial of Jasper Philipsen’s luxury watch matches the stash of green jerseys placed behind him on an outdoor sofa in Singapore.
It also matches the faces of his sprint rivals, left green with envy after a 2023 season that ended with 20 victories, including four stage wins at the Tour de France and the points classification green jersey.
Philipsen’s tally is 21 if you count the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium, an exhibition event he took line honours in ahead of Mark Cavendish and Tadej Pogačar in the country’s luxurious Marina Bay precinct.
On the back of such a commanding and consistent season, the Belgian has been crowned as the best sprinter in the WorldTour. His rivals certainly knew it was coming, Caleb Ewan among those who named the 25-year-old as the man to beat in the lead-up to the Tour.
When Cyclingnews asks if he is the best sprinter in the peloton right now, Philipsen doesn’t beat his chest or parade as your stereotypical fast man may.
“Pfffffff,” he responds, with more questions than affirmations.
“I would say this season, yes, if you look at it pure results-wise, but what is being the best sprinter? It’s being the most successful? Or being the fastest?”
Many before him would have simply said yes but for Philipsen, the art of sprinting is a far more complex affair that makes such assertions feel trivial.
“In sprinting it’s not only being the fastest,” he explains.
“It’s also about positioning the right way, being maybe the freshest in the final, looking at how the sprint goes timing-wise, having a great team.
“It’s hard to say.
“Some people say: ‘You’re the fastest’ but what is being the fastest? You just ride two-on-two and start sprinting and who is the fastest. But are you the best sprinter there is, it’s more than being the fastest, if you understand.”
Philipsen’s yardstick is perhaps indicative of his versatility, and not just in a bunch kick. He places as much emphasis on the spring Classics as he does the Tour de France, and hints at a shot at world championships next season.
He is arguably more than just a sprinter.
“A championship jersey would be nice,” he says, after rating his 2023 campaign an eight out of 10.
“I think this was my best season I did so far. I’m always there to try to improve and for sure there are also other goals left for next year and the coming…