Romain Bardet (Team DSM) sacrificed his own race to check on fellow Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) after a huge crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Alaphilippe was among a spate of riders taken out in a big crash with 59.4km remaining on the run back to Liege, with the Frenchman hitting a tree and ending up in a ditch.
Such was his plight, rival Bardet decided to give up the pursuit of those not caught up in the crash and wander down the steep grass verge to check on his compatriot.
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Bardet later managed to get back into the race after medics had arrived on the scene, but he later dropped out and was shaken by Alaphilippe’s condition.
Speaking at the finish, an emotional Bardet reflected to VeloNews: “It was just a nightmare.
“When I looked around I saw Julian maybe five or six meters down, and it was an emotional shock because he was in a bad situation. No one was coming and he really needed help. It was an emergency situation. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t breathe.
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“He felt conscious but he couldn’t really talk. I really hope that he’s OK. The mechanic came, then the doctor. The road was completely blocked.
“A lot of guys were involved in a very bad situation. No one saw him, you couldn’t really see him from the road. It was a really bad situation. After that, I was in shock. The race was gone. I was lucky to escape with no injuries.”
Alaphilippe was later confirmed to have suffered two broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade and a collapsed lung, while team-mate Ilan Van Wilder broke his jaw in the same incident.
Both riders will remain in hospital for treatment and observation.
Alaphilippe’s co-leader Remco Evenepoel produced a brilliant attack and 29km time trial to secure victory.
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