World champion Alaphilippe, Cavendish to miss Tour de France

BRUSSELS -- Two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe and ace sprinter Mark Cavendish won't be on the starting line when the Tour de France kicks off Friday from Copenhagen.

Alaphilippe has not recovered enough in the two months since his horrific crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team said on Monday when it unveiled its eight-man roster for cycling's biggest race.

Cavendish, who rides for the same team and last year matched Eddy Merckx's all-time record of 34 Tour stage wins, also missed the cut. He was named as first-reserve rider despite winning the British national title over the weekend.

"Concerning our reserves, we must stress out that they showed a lot of professionalism, continued to train and remained focused in these past couple of weeks," Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels said.

The Belgian outfit will be led by another sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen, who posted 10 victories this season.

Alaphilippe only resumed racing last weekend at the French national championships.

He was forced to abandon the Belgian classic in April after he got caught in a mass crash and hit a tree at high speed. Alaphilippe fractured a shoulder blade and two ribs and sustained a collapsed lung.

"To miss another opportunity to wear my beautiful rainbow jersey in my home country is very sad for me and I knew that this decision would be difficult for the team to take," Alaphilippe said. "At the same time, I completely understand this, because I too don't want to be at the start if I can't be at my best level."

With his unpredictable tactics and appetite for spectacular attacks, Alaphilippe is a fan favorite. He has won Tour stages over the past four editions and wore the race leader's yellow jersey for 14 days in 2019.

Steels said the decision to leave Alaphilippe at home was "a very difficult one, as he is one of the team's most emblematic riders and we wrote so many great moments together at the Tour."