Huge crash decimates Strade Bianche peloton and takes down Julian Alaphilippe with several riders out
Benoot and Campenaerts among those forced to quit the race with just under 100km to go.
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A huge crash caused by severe winds with 99km to go in Strade Bianche saw world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) somersault over his handlebars and land in a ditch.
The Frenchman was two-and-a-half minutes down following the fall on sector five of the gravel roads, but he was paced back by his team and rejoined the main bunch with 76km remaining.
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The incident took place on sector five with a break of nine riders up the road. Alaphilippe was at the front of the peloton on a slightly downhill section when a severe gust of wind took an Alpecin-Fenix rider across the gravel. This left Alaphilippe with nowhere to go and the world champion was forced off the road as he crashed.
He wasn’t the only rider to fall with dozens taken down in the devastating incident. Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) were both involved and forced to abandon the race.
Other riders who abandoned included Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious), Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), and Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal).
Alaphilippe would eventually finish 58th in the race. He attacked just before eventual winner Tadej Pogačar soloed clear with around 50km to go and helped setup teammate Kasper Asgreen, who finished third.
“Kasper is third on the podium, so that’s not bad,” Alaphilippe said at the finish.
“When Pogacar attacked, I could not respond. After my crash I felt empty. I am OK – I have a bit of pain. Next we race Tirreno.”