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Julian Alaphilippe cleared to return to training, French team leaves door open for road worlds

French national team chief Voeckler to play 'wait and see' ahead of confirming Wollongong selection as he tracks Alaphilippe's recovery.

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Julian Alaphilippe was offered opportunity to set a derailed season back on track Friday.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl confirmed Alaphilippe got the all-clear to return to indoor training after he dislocated his shoulder in a heavy crash at the Vuelta a España last week.

The green light gives the Frenchman a beacon of hope for hitting form for a world title defense in three weeks’ time.

“The world champion underwent Friday a follow-up scan in Ronse, under the supervision of the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl medical team.

“The scan has revealed there is no further damage than the dislocation originally diagnosed, meaning that Julian can begin mobilizing the shoulder immediately, as well as training on his rollers,” read a statement from the team.

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“Should the movement and the pain be manageable, he then should be able to start full training in the not-too-distant future.”

Door to road worlds remains open: ‘The injury is still too fresh, we need more perspective’

Julian Alaphilippe crosses the line to win his second world title
A bid at a third consecutive world title is still a possibility for Alaphilippe. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

The news comes well-timed for Alaphilippe.

A push at a third straight rainbow jersey in the Wollongong worlds later this month offers the French ace opportunity to pull a U-turn on a dire season disrupted by sickness, crashes, COVID … and more crashes.

French national team selector Thomas Voeckler has the freedom to select or omit Alaphilippe at short notice. “Lez Bleus” qualified to field eight riders for the Wollongong road race, with Alaphilippe gaining a ninth by rights of his victory last season.

“The French team will start the world championships with well-established ambitions, but I don’t want to make a fuss about saying that we approach the race with the same idea in mind whether Julian is there or not,” Voeckler told AFP on Friday.

Quick-Step chief Patrick Lefevere was downbeat about Alaphilippe’s chances of hitting race form for the long, hilly road worlds September 25.

Voeckler is intent on playing “wait and see” as Alaphilippe presses reset for the umpteenth time this season.

“The injury is still too fresh, we need more perspective. Of course, it was a hard fall, but luckily there are no fractures. Although time is not on our side,” he said. “I hope he can recover as soon as possible so that we can also draw our conclusions.”

Confirmed favorites for the men’s race in Wollongong include Belgian ballers Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert, and home hero Michael Matthews.

Lawson Craddock, Brandon McNulty, Kyle Murphy, Nielson Powless, and Magnus Sheffield made the U.S. men’s selection.