Alaphilippe’s participation in the Worlds has been in doubt since he abandoned the Vuelta a España after dislocating his shoulder in a crash on stage 11. The two-time world champion was cleared to resume training on the rollers a little under a week ago.
Speaking to Sporza (opens in new tab) at Izegem Koers on Thursday, Lefevere suggested that Alaphilippe was likely to make the trip to Australia in search of a third successive rainbow jersey, though neither the rider himself nor French coach Thomas Voeckler have publicly confirmed as much.
“I also heard the news about his participation,” Lefevere said. “He called me to say that tomorrow morning [Friday], he will come to pick up his equipment at our service course in Wevelgem.”
Alaphilippe has endured an ill-starred second year in the rainbow jersey. After illness delayed the start of his season, he sustained two broken ribs, a broken scapula, and a punctured lung in a mass crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
After missing the Tour de France, Alaphilippe returned to winning ways atop Mur de Huy on the opening day of the Tour de Wallonie, only to test positive for COVID-19 shortly afterwards. He was among red jersey Remco Evenepoel’s key support riders at the Vuelta only to crash out in the second week.
Prior to the Vuelta, Lefevere had used an interview with De Morgen to warn Alaphilippe against using the race purely to build his form for the World Championships. On Thursday, Lefevere said his preference would have been for Alaphilippe to eschew the Worlds and target Il Lombardia.
“He wants to risk it, but I don't think it's very smart. Had I been him, I would have let the World Championships pass me by and put everything on the Italian races,” Lefevere said.
“But I understand the pressure from what I will call French politics. I'm not paying him to ride for the French team. Becoming world champion is nice, but I prefer him to race in our jersey.
"He already didn't have the best condition before the Vuelta. What I saw there was good. But I think it's risky."
The UCI Road World Championships is set to run from September 18-25 on hilly courses in Wollongong, south-east Australia.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.