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Julian Alaphilippe will defend his world title in Australia later this month, according to Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boss Patrick Lefevere, but the Belgian isn’t happy about it.
Though the French federation hasn’t confirmed his participation, Lefevere told Belgian broadcaster Sporza that he had heard from the two-time champion that he would be heading to the world championships.
Alaphilippe, who has endured a difficult season, crashed out of the Vuelta a España on stage 11 after one of his teammates slipped out on a corner and fell in front of him. The Frenchman avoided any broken bones, but he dislocated his shoulder in the incident and was only cleared to race again a week ago.
“I also heard the news about his participation,” Lefevere told Sporza. “He called me that he will pick up his equipment tomorrow morning (Friday) in our service course in Wevelgem.
“He wants to risk it, but I don’t think it’s that smart. If I had been him, I would have let the World Championships pass me by and put everything on the Italian races. But I understand the pressure of – what I will call – French politics. I don’t pay him to ride for the French team. Becoming world champion is nice, but I’d rather have him race in our jersey.
“He was not in the best condition before the Vuelta. What I saw there was good, but I think it’s risky.”
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Alaphilippe has had a challenging campaign in 2022 with a big crash at Strade Bianche proving an early setback in his second year as world champion. He was able to brush that off with relative ease but found himself sidelined for several months after a bigger spill at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April.
The 30-year-old suffered a punctured lung, two broken ribs, and a broken scapular after he hit a tree following a mass pile-up in the pack when it was traveling on a narrow road at 60kph. Compatriot Romain Bardet later spoke of the fear he felt when he saw Alaphilippe lying on the ground.
Alaphilippe made his first racing appearance following the accident at the French national championships in late June but he didn’t start racing again properly until late July at the Tour de Wallonie. The Vuelta a España was to be his final preparation for the world championships, where he is aiming to win the road race title for the third straight time.