Patrick Lefevere takes swipe at Julian Alaphilippe: 'It's always the same people who are unlucky'

The outspoken Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boss has demanded that the former world champion returns to winning ways

Julian Alaphilippe
(Image credit: Getty)

Patrick Lefevere has risked creating a new conflict between himself and one of his star riders, with the Quick-Step Alpa Vinyl team manager appearing to suggest that Julian Alaphilippe may no longer be worthy of his high salary.

The Frenchman, who was back-to-back world champion until this autumn when his trade teammate Remco Evenepoel inherited the rainbow bands off him, endured a difficult 2022.

A barren run of form in the spring - a stage win at April's Tour of the Basque Country aside - culminated with a nasty crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège that left him with a punctured lung and broken ribs, among other injuries.

He subsequently missed the Tour de France and despite impressing in a helper's role on his return to Grand Tour action at the Vuelta a España, he was forced to abandon on stage 11 with a dislocated shoulder.

Now recovered and preparing for the 2023 campaign, the 30-year-old has been given strict instructions by Lefevere that he must return to winning ways in the forthcoming season.

"I want him to recover - he owes me revenge," Lefevere told La Dernière Heure, a Belgian French-language newspaper. "Julian has a salary of a champion, but he needs to confirm that he is still a champion.

"I don't care that he is no longer world champion - he hasn't won much in recent years."

It is not the first time that the outspoken Lefevere has taken aim at one of his team's leading riders, with Irishman Sam Bennett being the recipient of repeated harsh words in 2021 when Lefevere claimed that his then-top sprinter did not really have a knee injury.

Although Lefevere hasn't criticised Alaphilippe's mental state, like he did of Bennett, he indicated that the Frenchman should shoulder some of the responsibility for his run of injuries, rather then bemoaning bad fortune.

"Yes, he's had a lot of bad luck," Lefevere continued, "but it's always the same people who are lucky and the same people who are unlucky."

The 2023 squad of the Belgian superpower, who will be rebranding to Soudal-QuickStep from January 1, are currently in Alicante at a pre-season training camp. It is not yet known when Alaphilippe will make his season debut.

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