Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Remco Evenepoel and team boss Patrick Lefevere have blamed the motorbike driver for Julian Alaphilippe's crash at the Tour of Flanders 2020.
The world champion suffered a broken hand during the incident that occurred with 35km remaining, having ridden away from the rest of the field alongside Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert and eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).
Van Aert was leading the trio at the time, before pulling out and passing the moto as it slowed, Van der Poel reacting quickly behind to avoid it before Alaphilippe had no chance to take evasive action, clipping the back of the vehicle and hitting the deck.
"Perhaps the Shimano motorbike has been instructed by the jury chairman to nestle behind the front runners, but that bike of the UCI had no business there,” Lefevere told Sporza.
"Those bikes had to be on the outside by the way, because it was a slight right turn. A driver always looks for the shortest route, so he drives past there.
"Wout van Aert would not have thought that this would happen. You saw that Mathieu van der Poel was shocked that those two motos were there. He could only just avoid that motorbike, but Alaphilippe could not.”
Lefevere was then asked whether the fact Alaphilippe seemed to be talking to his team on the radio around the time of the crash played a part at all, which the Belgian denies.
“I do not agree 100 per cent with that. Van der Poel almost rode into it and he was not talking to anyone. You have the first rider trying to avoid something, then a second and then a third. That’s always a bit more difficult. Those motorcyclists just had no business [being] there. "
Watching from home, Alaphilippe’s team-mate Remco Evenepoel shared his more robust opinion on Twitter.
F***ing s**t motorbike!!!” was how the 20-year-old put it.
Responding to someone asking if the riders shouldn’t have been drafting so close to the moto, Evenepoel agreed.
“Also true! Van Aert had to move to open more to the left so the guys behind had enough space. Van der Poel was close and then Julian was right on [top of the moto].”
Deceuninck - Quick-Step sports director Brian Holm also pointed the finger at the motorbike, saying the racing line should be clear of traffic, in a now-deleted tweet.
“The roadway must be cleared of spectators, motorcycles and cars,” the Dane said. “The last thing a tired rider and unconcentrated rider must be able to hit is a vehicle, where the pilot snores, nothing else should take the bike race or the riders' line!”
Tom Steels, who was the team’s sports director at the race, looked to diffuse the situation, saying the team’s official position was to not point any fingers at all.
“Cycling is a sport that involves a lot of risks, but some of these should be taken out from races. We aren’t pointing the finger, we aren’t blaming anybody, just saying that the moto should have been more careful, they had enough room to let the riders pass,” he said.
“Lessons should be learned from what happened, so that these kinds of incidents are avoided in the future.”
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