The reigning world champion was one of the strongest riders in Flanders on Sunday, making the decisive attack and riding as part of a breakaway trio that went to the finish.
But Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider Alaphilippe crashed out of the final Monument of 2020 when he rode into the back of a race jury motorbike, which had stopped at the side of the road.
Alaphillipe suffered a broken hand in the fall and on Monday (October 19) underwent surgery in Belgium, which means he’ll now have to wear a cast for the next three weeks before he can start training for 2021.
The Frenchman said: “I was on track for a top-three finish at least, but unfortunately that collision with the moto happened and my race was over in a second.
“My shoulder was hurting, my hand was hurting, I was in a lot of pain and initially I was really scared that something bad had happened. Now I can say I was a bit lucky, considering everything, although I can’t stop thinking what it would have been if my race continued. But, at the end of the day, I’m happy that I had this opportunity to discover the race as World Champion and could show my rainbow jersey as part of such a strong team. This has left me wanting for more and I can already tell you that I want to return next year at the start.”
The incident with the motorbike has sparked a lot of debate around who was to blame, with some (including Deceuninck team boss Patrick Lefevere) arguing the bike rider shouldn’t have stopped in that spot.
After the race, motorbike rider Eddy Lissens said he felt guilty about the incident, but added he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.
Alaphilippe was already planning on ending his season at Flanders, having won a stage of the Tour de France, the World Championships in Imola and Brabantsje Pijl.
He said: “My year was special, beautiful and bizarre at the same time. I had some really fantastic moments, some bad ones, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, on and off the bike.
“At the same time, I’m sure it happened to many, because this year marred by the pandemic threw everybody into the unknown. That’s why just returning to racing in August after so many months of enforced break felt like a bonus.”