Has it gone too far? Julian Alaphilippe continued to race spring classics despite leg fracture "because I didn't want people to think I was making excuses"

Over the past two seasons Julian Alaphilippe has been under intense pressure and scrutiny from Patrick Lefevere at Soudal - Quick-Step and was looking to get back to the top this spring. That is why he decided to continue to race even after he was diagnosed with a fracture in the leg.

Alaphilippe crashed at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and then once again at Strade Bianche. The latter left him with a fracture in the fibula. Two days after he took to the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, untested and with pain in the leg. “I didn't want to say it because I didn't want people to think I was making excuses,” Alaphilippe said in an interview with Le Parisien. “I suffered a lot from my fall in Strade Bianche. Moreover, my morale was damaged, because I had good legs before and because it is a competition that I really enjoy. This fall was a big blow to me. And I had pain in my left knee.”

Despite the ongoing pain he went on to race Milano-Sanremo where he finished in the Top10, and only after did he get tested. “Together with the medical team, we decided to conduct investigations. The tests showed that there was a fracture in the head of the fibula. This explained why the pain wouldn't go away," he admits.

It was very annoying, but not something unbearable. That's why the doctors told me before the Flemish classics that the choice whether to race or not was up to me.” The Frenchmen has a lot on plate... Team manager Patrick Lefevere has explained that he has a lot of focus and expectations on Alaphilippe because of his very high salary following a double World Championships win in 2020 and 2021, but has often been criticized due to several statements on his rider.

Only two months ago back in February, he suggested that Alaphilippe had partied too much, but later cleared out that this statement was regarding events that had happened a few years back. However, he mentioned Alaphilippe's wife Marion Rousse (director of the Tour de France Femmes as well) and also reportedly said to the Frenchman that "If you screw up one more time, I'll fire you on the spot" according to his own words.

A huge controversy flared, justifiably, following those statements. Rousse herself put out a statement famously writing that "it is unacceptable to attack my private life as he does" and arguing she never drank alcohol, which would expose a lie on Lefevere's side. The pressure is clearly on, even if recently Alaphilippe told RMC that "I've detached myself from it" as a response to Lefevere's comments.

But Alaphilippe raced on, completing the E3 Saxo Classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen and Tour of Flanders before taking a break from racing now. he did not finish with a top result in neither of the classics. “...I was super motivated and found it difficult - after all the work I had put in - not to start," he justifies it. "I should have told myself, shit, take time to recover, get over it and don't fight the pain. But this mistake has already been made. I can't go back and have to accept it. I should have taken a break after the Italian races and then gone for the Ardennes classics."

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