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Tour stars, including Alaphilippe, head to Clásica San Sebastián

Several top riders are heading to Spain for the Clásica San Sebastián, but recent Tour winner Egan Bernal might be heading home.

Barely a week after the Tour de France wrapped up, top WorldTour stars are clicking back into their pedals for the Spanish one-day Clásica de San Sebastián on Saturday.

Headlining the 227km race will be defending champion Julian Alaphilippe, along with Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates Remco Evenepoel and Enric Mas.

Alaphilippe made headlines this week when he said that he won’t be focusing immediately on the Tour in the coming years, despite his recent run that included 14 days in the yellow jersey and a fifth-place overall finish.

“The Tour might be something I can focus on in the future, but not next year,” Alaphilippe said. “Targeting the Tour can take years. Next I want to try my luck at the Tour of Flanders.”

Last year, Alaphilippe out-kicked Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) to win Spain’s most important one-day race.

The hilly route across Spain’s Basque Country typically draws a top field. Some riders, like Mikel Landa (Movistar), will close out a busy racing period and then take a well-deserved break.

Others often line up at the race to open the Spanish racing calendar heading toward the Vuelta a España, which this year takes place August 24 through September 15. The Vuelta a Burgos (August 13-17) will see the return of Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz as he prepares for the Vuelta, where he will line up with teammate Nairo Quintana.

Simon and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will both line up in San Sebastián. The brothers are expected to race the Vuelta as well.

“It’s a great race, always really hard, and hopefully I still have good legs after the Tour,” said Simon, who won two stages at the Tour. “You never really know how everybody will be just one week after a grand tour; everybody recovers differently.”

Though he is on the preliminary start list, recently crowned Tour champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) might not start.

“I will return home soon to celebrate my victory there,” Bernal said after competing in a post-Tour criterium in Belgium. “I hope to have a good party in my country.”

Other contenders on the start list include Greg Avermaet (CCC), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). American starters include Will Barta and Joey Rosskopf (CCC), Joe Dombrowski and Alex Howes (EF Education First), Brent Bookwalter (Mitchelton-Scott), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), and Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin).

The 39th edition of San Sebastián sees tweaks to the course. First, the traditional climb over the emblematic, steep Alto de Jaizkibel comes about halfway through the day. The route ends with three short but steep climbs. The Cat. 2 Murgil crests just seven kilometers before the finish along San Sebastián’s posh finishing straight.