The newly-crowned world champion suffered a disaster finish to the Belgian Monument when he almost caused a crash when launching his sprint, and then lost the race by celebrating too early.
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Alaphilippe has apologised to Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who were forced to swerve to avoid the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, and added that the move wasn’t deliberate.
The 28-year-old said: “I felt good today, wanted to do a nice race and had a very strong team around me, who did a great job, protecting me the entire day. Then I attacked on the steepest part of Roche-aux-Faucons, made a selection there and opened a gap together with the other guys. We worked well together, kept our advantage over the chasers and I felt confident going into the final kilometre.”
He added: “I started my sprint at 200 meters to go, but then I made that mistake, for which I take full responsibility. I am aware that my swerve caused a problem to the other riders and I apologise for that, but I want to underline that I didn’t do it on purpose. I accept the jury’s decision and all I can do now is focus on the next races.”
After the dangerous move, Alaphilippe was clear at the front of the race and raised his hands in anticipation of his victory, oblivious to the fact that Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was continuing to surge from behind. Roglič then passed Alaphilippe right at the line, denying the Frenchman the win.
After the finish, the race commissiares then announced that Alaphilippe had been relegated to last place in the lead group, stripping him of his podium place and putting him in fifth instead.
Hirschi was promoted to second place, with Pogačar third.