Julian Alaphilippe has said his health is "moving in the right direction", two weeks after his heavy crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider suffered a punctured lung as well as broken ribs and shoulder blade as part of a huge incident in the bunch at the Ardennes Monument.
In an Instagram post (opens in new tab) on Saturday morning, the world champion spoke about his condition publicly for the first time. There are concerns that he will not recover in time for the Tour de France, which kicks off at the beginning of July.
The Frenchman wrote: "Hi everyone. After a couple of days off with my family and me, I’m pleased to give you an update about my current situation.
"My recovery is going well and the pain is slowly but surely reducing. My breathing is already a lot better and my health is moving in the right direction.
"I hope that my heavy crash will soon be only a bad memory. I really would like to thank all of you for the many kind messages I received over the last ten days, they really touched me."
Liège was due to be the last race of his spring block, so Alaphilippe is not skipping any big targets in his programme by being out at this stage of the season. However, Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere has said it is "a race against time" to see if he will recover for the Tour, surely his biggest objective of the year,
"The next medical checkups will decide how the rest of my season will look like," Alaphilippe wrote on social media. "I’m already super motivated for what’s coming and I’m so looking forward to seeing you next to the road.
"For now, I try to enjoy as much as I can the time I have with my family."
It is hopeful that the world champion is already breathing better, and he and his team will hope that he can return to his bike as soon as possible.
Alaphilippe struck a tree during the horror crash. The nearest rider to him was fellow Frenchman Romain Bardet, who sacrificed his own result at Liège in order to attend to his countryman.
"I was very scared for Julian," Bardet said on the French radio station RMC after the race. "I fell on the same side and I saw him three metres below me. He told me: 'I can't move, I can't move.' No one was coming.
"These are really scenes you don't want in cycling. I tried to call people, the cars were blocked, it took forever. It was only 4-5 minutes, but it was a really shocking scene. You don't ride a bike to see guys on the ground like that."
As a result of his actions, Bardet was presented with an award by the International Committee for Fair Play ahead of stage one of the Giro d'Italia on Friday.
The president of the CIFP, Hungarian fencer Dr. Jenö Kamuti, presented the certificate for a "Special Fair Play Act Diploma" to the Team DSM rider.
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