World champion Julian Alaphilippe has crashed out of the Tour of Flanders while at the head of the race after hitting a motorbike on the course. X-rays subsequently confirmed he had broken the metacarpal 2 and 4 bones on his right hand, and he is due to undergo an operation tomorrow.
The Frenchman, whose Deceuninck Quick-Step team has been renamed Elegant Quick Step for the day for sponsorship reasons, fell heavily and was clearly in no condition to continue riding as he received medical attention.
The incident happened with around 33km remaining, shortly after Alaphilippe together with Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix and Jumbo-Visma's Wout Van Aert had broken clear at the head of the race on the climb of the Taienberg.
🇫🇷 😱 CHUTE D'ALAPHILIPPE ! Quelle terrible fin de saison pour le Français...
— Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) October 18, 2020
The trio were coming round a right-hand bend, with Alaphilippe at the rear on van der Poel's wheel, when the crash happened just as he was apparently distracted by a conversation with his team car on his radio.
He hit the rear luggage box of the motorbike with his right arm and was thrown over his handlebars.
The motorbike, ridden by a member of the race jury, was stationary on the right-hand side of the road, and the incident will reignite concerns that there are too many such vehicles on major races.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.