One of the standout riders of the Tour de France, where he conquered two prestigious mountain stages en route to winning the prized polka dot jersey, Julian Alaphilippe will look to keep the momentum and be in the thick of the action at Spain’s only World Tour one-day race, Clasica San Sebastian, where he’ll be joined on the Quick-Step Floors team by neo-pros Kasper Asgreen, James Knox and Jhonatan Narvaez, Liège–Bastogne–Liège victor Bob Jungels, Rémi Cavagna and Pieter Serry.
Starting and finishing in San Sebastian on the Atlantic coast, the 229km-long race should get off to a quiet start before coming to life on the first of the two laps of the Jaizkibel (8.3km, 5.3%) – Arkale (2.6km, 6.3%) combo, which will make a first selection in the peloton.
With 55 kilometres to go, the riders will take again on the two iconic climbs, which could give the cue for some other moves from the bunch, although it’s widely expected that the big and potentially decisive attacks will be launched on the brutal Murgil Tontorra (1.8km, 11.5%), whose steep and gruelling gradients and narrow roads can be used as springboard to victory, especially as the hill tops out less than eight kilometres from the finish.
“San Sebastian is an iconic and beautiful race, but also a hard one with a very tough final,” said Quick-Step Floors sports director Wilfried Peeters. “We hope to have a few cards to play on Saturday, if everything goes well.”
“Julian and Bob have enjoyed an impressive Tour de France and they could be in contention. The rest of the team will come across from Wallonie, where they rode a strong race and were always up there, so the signs are good, especially as they all came after an altitude training camp. It’s never easy to win a race, and this one is no exception, especially with the depth of the field, but we are going to the start very motivated and confident.”