Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey at the finish of stage 2 of the 2021 Tour de France.

Julian Alaphilippe’s presence at the Tour de France is in doubt

Lefevere says one thing’s for sure: Remco Evenepoel will not be drafted in should the world champion’s injuries keep him from the Tour.

by Kit Nicholson

photography by Cor Vos

Julian Alaphilippe was one of the many riders caught up in the horror crash that overshadowed Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and with the Tour de France now just two months away, the world champion is in a race against time.

“Julian is recovering from a collapsed lung, a broken shoulder blade and two broken ribs, which have also been displaced,” Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team boss Patrick Lefevere wrote in his Het Nieuwsblad column. “He’s not allowed to move for three weeks, which is a torment for him… He will initially recover with his family in Ronse. He is not allowed to fly in his condition.”

The Tour de France is always a major goal for Alaphilippe, who has won six stages and the polka-dot jersey (in 2018) at his historic home race, and he’s worn the yellow jersey on multiple occasions.

“The big question is whether Julian will be there when the Tour departs in Denmark,” Lefevere continued. “We will do everything we can, but it will be a race against time. If, in the most favourable case, he is back on his bike in mid-May, he still has six weeks. The Tour starts on Friday 1 July, a week earlier than usual. That is of course not an advantage. Bonus: Julian is not one to gain weight easily.”

With the world champion’s participation up in the air, thoughts naturally turn to possible alternatives within the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team. Unsurprisingly, the name circulating fastest in the rumour mill is Remco Evenepoel, and though the 22-year-old certainly knows how to win one-days and short stage races, his Grand Tour experience is restricted to the 2021 Giro d’Italia, which ended rather miserably for the young Belgian.

“A Tour with or without Alaphilippe makes a big difference, commercially and sportingly,” Lefevere wrote. “What we are definitely not going to do is use Remco Evenepoel as a stand-in. As he himself indicated in Extra Time Koers, we stick to his schedule. Not the Tour, but the Vuelta.”

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