Julian Alaphilippe hospitalized with crash injuries from Liege-Bastogne-Liege

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LIEGE, Belgium — Julian Alaphilippe, the world road race champion from France, was forced to abandon Liege-Bastogne-Liege after getting caught in a mass crash with about 60 kilometers left.

His team said Alaphilippe fractured his shoulder blade and has two fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.

“His condition is stable but will need to be hospitalized for observation,” Quick-Step Alpha-Vinyl said.

Alaphilippe, 29, won the last two world road race titles, becoming the first Frenchman to win the race in 23 years. In between he skipped the Tokyo Olympics after placing fourth in the road race in 2016.

Over the last three years, Alaphilippe wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for 18 stages.

Rising star Remco Evenepoel won Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday, the biggest victory of his career in cycling’s oldest classic as Belgian riders swept the podium places.

A versatile rider widely regarded as one of the most promising talents of his generation, Evenepoel triumphed in “La Doyenne” at his first attempt, aged 22.

Evenepoel, who recovered from a horrific crash at the 2020 Tour of Lombardy, raised his arms and buried his face in his hands as he added his name to a list of winners that includes the likes of cycling greats Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

“It’s my first Liege and I won, it’s a dream come true,” said Evenepoel, who rides for the Belgian outfit Quick-Step-Alpha-Vinyl. “Finishing alone, with a lead of almost one minute in my favorite race, it’s unbelievable.”

Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the women’s race for the second time after going solo in the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. She won ahead of Grace Brown and Demi Vollering.

“It’s like good wine, the strength comes with age,” said the former world champion, who is 39.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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