World champion Julian Alaphilippe hit a tree in a mass fall 60km from the finish line of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day cycling classic on Sunday before being rushed to hospital complaining of severe back pain.
Ineos’ British rider Tom Pidcock fell first and took down around thirty riders on the 257.5km race through the Ardennes forest in Belgium on a narrow, wooded section where the peloton was racing hard.
Frenchman Alaphilippe was able to move his legs and was conscious as the 29-year-old was taken away by ambulance with his mangled bike left abandoned down a slope off the roadside.
Compatriot Romain Bardet, also caught up in the fall, came to his aid and signalled to the medical service to intervene.
This is the third fall for the double world champion this season, after the Strade Bianche in early March and La Flèche Brabançonne ten days ago.
“I scared myself. I thought I had injured my wrist. But I only felt a few aches the next day, that’s all,” said Alaphilippe of his fall in the Flanders classic on April 13.
Alaphilippe has been runner-up twice in the Belgian classic known as ‘La Doyenne’ (‘The Old Lady’) and after the withdrawal of Tadej Pogacar was considered amongst the favourites to win the 108th edition.