Julian Alaphilippe has been forced to abandon the Vuelta a España after he crashed on stage 11 to Cabo de Gata. The world champion left the race by ambulance following the incident, which took place with 64km remaining.
Doctors confirmed that Alaphilippe has dislocated his right shoulder and that X-rays have shown there is no fracture, according to a medical update from QuickStep-AlphaVinyl.
"Doctors have reduced the shoulder as a result. Julian will travel to Belgium on Thursday, where he will undergo an extra scan at the hospital in Herentals, in order to rule out any further damage. At this point, no timescale has been set for his recovery," read a statement by the team.
The crash casts doubt over Alaphilippe’s defence of his title at next month’s World Championships in Wollongong. His abandon also leaves red jersey Remco Evenepoel with just five QuickStep-AlphaVinyl teammates to support him for the remainder of the Vuelta.
Alaphilippe was riding towards the head of the peloton with Evenepoel and the rest of the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team when he slid out on a right-hand bend. As the Frenchman sat on the roadside clutching his right shoulder, it was immediately apparent that his Vuelta was at an end.
A sling was applied to Alaphilippe’s arm before he sat into an ambulance. Although TVE later reported that he had sustained a broken collarbone in the incident, X-rays confirmed that there is no fracture.
Alaphilippe has endured repeated ill fortune in 2022. His build-up to the new season was interrupted by illness and he later suffered two broken ribs, a broken scapula and a punctured lung in the mass crash before the Col du Rosier at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Those injuries kept Alaphilippe off the bike for a month and eventually forced him to miss the Tour de France. Victory atop the Mur de Huy at the Tour de Wallonie in late July appeared to signal an upturn in his fortunes, but he was sidelined by COVID-19 shortly afterwards.
Alaphilippe has played a key role in Evenepoel’s guard thus far on the Vuelta, helping to tee up his offensives at Pico Jano and Les Praeres in the opening week, and he had hoped to use the race to prepare for the World Championships and Il Lombardia.
“If I can get to my best level, back to 100%, for at least one day between here and the end of the season, I’d be very happy,” Alaphilippe had said before the Tour of Leuven earlier this month. “That would be mission accomplished for me.”
Alaphilippe is the second QuickStep-AlphaVinyl rider to abandon the Vuelta after Pieter Serry was forced out with COVID-19 before stage 9.
⏪Una caída al frente del pelotón deja fuera de carrera al Campeón del Mundo 🇫🇷@alafpolak1 - @qst_alphavinyl.🚴♂️ A crash at the front of the bunch means World Champion Julian Alaphilippe is out of the race.¡Mucho ánimo! 🙏 Wishing him a quick recovery#LaVuelta22 pic.twitter.com/R3XF1GYETqAugust 31, 2022
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