Julian Alaphilippe spoke extensively to L’Équipe about the Tour of Flanders and the collision with the motorbike that caused him to fall and break his hand. “I heard the motard felt guilty about what happened, but he shouldn’t worry. It was not his fault, it was a competition incident,” said the world champion.

Alaphilippe hopes to reassure Eddy Lissens. The incident happened in the final of the Tour of Flanders when the Frenchman raced away from the peloton with Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert. “I was behind Van der Poel and I followed him to stay in his slipstream,” Alaphilippe explained. “But when he turned away, I hit the bike at full force. I can do a lot with the bike, but in this case I couldn’t do anything about it.”

The leader of Deceuninck – Quick-Step was also talking on his radio just before the crash. “People said I was not focused. But whether I had looked in front of me, looked behind me, had my hands on the bars or not, or was drinking… It hadn’t changed anything. When Van der Poel moved away from the bike at the last minute, there was nothing I could do anymore,” said Alaphilippe.

“I didn’t hear the sound of the engine either, because we were going so fast,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s Van der Poel’s fault that he didn’t warn me, and I’m not saying it’s the motard’s fault, because he had nothing to do with it. Besides, I am not a person who is out for revenge. Van Aert and Van der Poel have sent me messages after the race, that was nice of them.”

After the successful operation on his broken metacarpals, Alaphilippe is feeling well again. “I know it could have been a lot worse. In the days after the operation I had not expected that much pain. My hand was very swollen and I couldn’t sleep well. This is not how I wanted to go into my winter break, but I am happy to be home and that I am not in so much pain anymore.”

At the beginning of November, when he has another appointment at the hospital in Herentals, Alaphilippe will hear when he can start training again.