"I immediately thought of Patrick Lefevere. He is partly to blame" - Thijs Zonneveld reacts to Julian Alaphilippe's heartbreaking admission

In the days since Julian Alaphilippe made the shocking admission that he's continued riding recently with a fractured leg, worried about the potential criticism he'd get had he rested up, there has been some heavy criticism for Soudal - Quick-Step boss, Patrick Lefevere.

The outspoken team boss has never been shy of using his Het Nieuwsblad column to publicly slam Alaphilippe and according to ex-pro turned Sporza analyst, Thijs Zonneveld, Lefevere must take some blame for the former world champion's anxiety around admitting his injuries.

"When I read it, I immediately thought of Patrick Lefevere. He is partly to blame for this situation by putting pressure on riders like Alaphilippe," Zonneveld says to Sporza. "It's an old way of management: always putting riders on edge in the hope of performing extra. I don't know if it works, because riders already put enough pressure on themselves."

Although Zonneveld blames Lefevere, he's not entirely impressed with Alaphilippe risking his long-term health in such a manner either. "It is eating away at him that he is not delivering what he is paid for. What I hear is that he is trying to do everything he can to get back to that old level," says the analyst. "What he has done now has made it a bigger problem. It is a stupid choice, but one forced by an unsafe work environment."

"Every race you ride is a new opportunity to fall on the painful spot. It is extremely unwise. But it is very difficult to say that it is wiser to think long term. Riders live towards goals," Zonneveld continues. "Wout van Aert is now canceling the Giro. You don't decide that in one evening. There is a grieving process to say goodbye to a great goal. Teams are then important in the guidance."

"As fans and enthusiasts, we hoist riders on the shield when they continue. We see it as something heroic," Zonneveld concludes. "Fractures or cracks are often not looked at if there is relatively little trouble. I find that misplaced heroism harmful."

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