French hope Alaphilippe to miss Tour de France

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[May 11, 2017]    PARIS (Reuters) - French hope Julian Alaphilippe has been ruled out of the Tour de France because of a knee injury, his Quick Step-Floors team said on Wednesday.

Quick Step rider and leader yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe jokes before the start of the 7th stage of Paris Nice cycling race, in Nice, France March 11, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

"I can't tell you how sad I am, there's really no words. The Tour de France was my primary goal of the year, and to miss it, after previously being forced to skip the Ardennes Classic, it's very disappointing," the 24-year-old, who underwent surgery on Wednesday, said in a team statement.

"Now my focus is on making a full recovery and arriving in a good condition for the second part of the year. Fortunately, the season is still long and I hope to bounce back."

Alaphilippe won the Tour of California last year and finished fourth in the Olympic road race in Rio de Janeiro.

This year, he finished fifth overall in the week-long Paris-Nice race and third in the Milan-San Remo classic.

The Tour de France starts on July 1 in Duesseldorf, Germany.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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