Julian Alaphilippe is staying optimistic that he will be able to race at the Tour de France in July, but he understands it wouldn't make sense to push too hard at the moment, as he continues his recovery from his heavy crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April.
The Frenchman suffered a punctured lung, as well as broken ribs and shoulder blade, as part of a major incident in the bunch at the Ardennes Monument. Alaphilippe's collapsed lung has completely healed now, though, and he is currently training in the Sierra Nevada with his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team.
Initially, it didn't seem possible that Alaphilippe would return in time for the Tour de France, which begins on July 1. However, the latest update suggests an appearance at the Grand Tour is well and truly on the cards.
“Every day I am improving," Alaphilippe said. "I hope to continue like this – my injuries just need time, so there is no need to have any intervention or surgery, which is why I am able to ride again and it was decided with the team that I am OK to come out here [Sierra Nevada] and join the camp.
"I am trying to be an optimist, but I know I need to take my time and to see how the training is going. If everything continues as it is, then the option of the Tour de France is still open, which is still in my mind, but it is really important that we do not rush anything and we continue to be patient, keep talking with the medical team and take their advice before we decide when I can race again.”
While he remains hopeful to start racing in time, the world champion also recognises he still has a long way to go to be able to compete on 21 stages of the Tour de France. For now, his training is measured, especially considering the broken bones he suffered aren't yet fully healed.
"The broken bones were still painful," he admitted, "which is completely normal as these injuries take more time to recover, but I was advised that I was OK to start training.
“Of course, I can’t yet be doing the same work as all of the guys here, as I need some time to train to take back my shape and I still have to be careful to not push my injuries so hard. I am super happy to be with the guys though, as we have a great atmosphere and perfect conditions in which to train.”
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