Julian Alaphilippe: World champion cyclist badly injured after hitting tree in high-speed crash
“His condition is stable, but will need to be hospitalised for observation,” the statement continued.
The Frenchman crashed 60 kilometers from the finish in a mass pile-up that decimated much of the peloton, fell down a ditch, hit a tree, and was initially hidden from view by foliage.
Such was the severity of Alaphilippe’s condition that Romain Bardet — a rival from another team — put aside his own hopes of victory to scramble to his compatriot’s aid.
Bardet stayed with Alaphilippe until trained medics arrived.
“It was just a nightmare,” Bardet said at the finish to cycling website VeloNews.
“When I looked around, I saw Julian maybe five or six meters down, and it was an emotional shock because he was in a bad situation. No one was coming and he really needed help. It was an emergency situation. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t breathe.”
“He felt conscious but he couldn’t really talk. I really hope that he’s OK. The mechanic came, then the doctor. The road was completely blocked.
“A lot of guys were involved in a very bad situation. No one saw him, you couldn’t really see him from the road … After that, I was in shock. The race was gone. I was lucky to escape with no injuries.”
As one of the favorites for Liège-Bastogne- Liège, Alaphilippe’s withdrawal changed the complexion of the race.
Ultimately, his 22-year-old teammate Remco Evenepoel took a spectacular solo victory, after attacking 30 kilometers from the finish.
“Today’s win is one for the entire team! Giving all my strength to my brothers @alafpolak1 and @IlanWilder and wishing them a speedy recovery,” Evenepoel wrote on Twitter after his victory.
Many other riders were also affected by the crash, including Alaphilippe’s teammate Ilan van Wilder who suffered a broken jaw.
In September, French cycling star Alaphilippe’ clinched the men’s world road cycling title for the second successive year.