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Coach ‘very optimistic’ about rest of season for Julian Alaphilippe after horror Liège crash

Alaphilippe's cousin and coach Franck says world champ will come back stronger from injury and illness affected start to season.

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Julian Alaphilippe‘s coach is “very optimistic” about the rest of the season after the double world champion was hospitalized following a huge crash that marked Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Speaking with L’Equipe, Alaphilippe’s cousin and coach Franck believes the French sensation will be back and better than ever after suffering several fractures and a hemopneumothorax in La Doyenne last weekend.

“We can’t give a recovery date yet, but I’m very optimistic for the rest of the season,” Franck Alaphilippe told L’Equipe.

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Alaphilippe was thrown against a tree and sent tumbling into the ditch in the super high-speed crash at Liège last weekend.

Dramatic footage shows countryman Romain Bardet coming to Alaphilippe’s assistance before the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl star was taken away in an ambulance. He was later diagnosed with two broken ribs, a broken scapula, and a hemopneumothorax.

In a medical update Tuesday, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl confirmed that Alaphilippe would remain under observation in hospital in Herentals as he continues his recovery. Teammate Ilan Van Wilder broke his jaw in the pile-up and has returned home following surgery.

The dramatic incident in Liège is the latest in a turbulent spring for Alaphilippe.

The 29-year-old fell heavily in a spectacular somersaulting move at the huge crash in Strade Bianche, was forced out of Milan-San Remo with bronchitis, and was knocked down by his own team car at Brabantse Pijl.

“In a career, every rider experiences at least one very complicated year where nothing goes right. Julian is right in the middle of it. He has always had difficult times, but a dark period like this, never. Since the start of the year, he’s had a cold, bronchitis, the flu, and now he’s fallen three times in less than two months. Every fortnight he’s been upset about something,” Franck said.

“But from what I’ve seen of him, I feel like this episode is going to make him stronger, give him even more mental toughness, he’s going to be even more determined than before.”

Despite the recent disasters, Franck said his cousin hadn’t lost his joie de vivre when he recently visited him in hospital in Belgium.

“He was still in great pain, but he was not at all down,” Franck said. “He got out a couple of jokes as he usually does, I was happy to see that he had already found his joking side.”

Alaphilippe’s original schedule for 2022 centered around the Ardennes classics before a return to the Tour de France in the summer.