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Vuelta a Espana

Remco Evenepoel laments ‘stupid loss’ of Julian Alaphilippe to crash at Vuelta a España

World champion's exit leaves Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl down to six riders to defend red.

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CABO DE GATA, Spain (VN) — Remco Evenepoel and his quest to win the Vuelta a España got a bit more complicated Wednesday when he lost reigning world champion Julian Alaphilippe to a crash.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl star crashed out with slightly more than 60km remaining and left the Vuelta in an ambulance with his right arm wrapped in a brace.

“It is just a stupid loss, it is a pity that we lose the world champion because he was in very good shape,” Evenepoel said. “But I have confidence in my other teammates as well that they will do very well for the coming weeks.”

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Losing Alaphilippe at such a decisive moment is a blow to Evenepoel, who otherwise got through Wednesday’s transition stage without serious incident.

“I was right in front of him, I don’t know what happened,” Evenepoel said. “For sure Julian was doing very well the last days.”

With Pieter Serry leaving the Vuelta in stage 9 with COVID-19, Evenepoel has only five teammates left to defend his red leader’s jersey going into Thursday’s decisive climbing stage at Peñas Blancas.

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COVID-19 is also taking its collective toll, with GC challengers Simon Yates and Pavel Sivakov both leaving the Vuelta on Wednesday with infections.

Losing a rider of Alaphilippe’s caliber, however, is a blow no matter how the team tried to spin it.

“I think we are not the only team that is losing guys,” Evenepoel said. “It definitely makes it a less beautiful day than we expected. It is definitely a big loss for our team, especially on such a quiet stage.

“It is quite a pity,” he said. “I hope he does well and that he is not suffering too much. I wish all the best for ‘Lulu.'”