Still in shock after the impressive fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the French rider told L’Équipe that he was afraid that Julian Alaphilippe “had an affected vertebra, paraplegia.”
In a long interview with The Team , Romain Bardet confided in the massive fall experienced by the peloton, 60 kilometers from the finish. The French rider, on the strength of his victory in the Tour of the Alps, wants to talk about it one last time to “move on” afterwards. The DSM puncher wants to warn about the behavior of the peloton and calls for a change in certain mentalities.
About sixty kilometers from the finish of “La Doyenne”, the peloton experiences a massive fall, which Romain Bardet describes as “a scene of chaos“. “I remember the sound of helmets banging against the asphalt, then the cries of pain from all the guys on the ground…“A fall that seemed almost inevitable according to the 31-year-old runner, as he had been feeling the tension for a few kilometers.
Still in shock a few hours after the race, Romain Bardet admits to having a black hole during the scene. “I do not remember anything. I don’t even know if I fell or not. I know I was in the wheel of Tom Pidcock and Jérémy Cabot, I was trying to keep a small safety margin on them, I felt the wave coming. I had time to put the brakes on, to tell myself that that’s it, my season was over, and from there, I don’t remember anything. The next image is me in the ditch with Julian Alaphilippe. I don’t even know where my bike is at this moment. I know I was hit from behind, I think I must have fallen, but I have nothing on me, I can’t remember. I have four five seconds missing.»
Coming immediately to the aid of his friend Julian Alaphilippe, the DSM runner remains surprised at certain behaviors. “I go back to the road and I almost get knocked down by a completely crazy sports director who wanted to go back to the front. I had just experienced this frightening scene and they seemed to take it as if it were a fact of the race. It’s borderline if they didn’t smile and say to themselves: ‘nice, less opponents.’ I’m exaggerating, but in their eyes, it was a fact of racing like any other.»
After this scene, Romain Bardet wants a change of mentality, to avoid a tragedy, he is convinced that it will happen again soon on a Grand Tour. “At the level of individual behavior that needs to change. Sometimes you have to know how to accept your placement in the race. […] In the face of the stakes, sometimes, it’s completely screwed up. Guys take bigger and bigger risks and put others in danger. There are really things that we did not see before. When it rolls as a team, a few years ago, you never took the place of a guy placed in the wheel of his teammate. It was a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’ Now everyone sneaks in the middle of everyone. Some are ready to do anything to get through,” says the French cyclist who will take more precautions on the roads. “I’d rather take a break one day and lose ten seconds but not fall.»
In conclusion, Romain Bardet gives L’Équipe, with emotion, news of Julian Alaphilippe: “He wrote to me on the night of Sunday to Monday, at two o’clock in the morning. When he got his phone back, that’s the first thing he did. We’ve known each other for a while. I hope he will recover quickly. When I left the race after rescuing him, I only wanted one thing: to know how he was doing. I was afraid that he had an affected vertebra, paraplegia. I really feared the worst…”
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