Julian Alaphilippe returns to racing at Clásica San Sebastián after Olympics absence

The world champion chose not to race in Tokyo 2020 after the Tour de France

Julian Alaphilippe riding in the Pyrenees at the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

World champion, Julian Alaphilippe will make his return to racing at the Clásica San Sebastián this weekend after taking a short break following the Tour de France.

The Deceuninck - Quick-Step star will be leading his squad at the race around the Basque Country's regional capital of San Sebastian, otherwise known as Donostia.

This is an important race that is part of the UCI WorldTour calendar and a potential build-up to the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España

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Deceuninck - Quick-Step have won the last two runnings of this race with Alapilippe taking victory in 2018 and young Belgian star Remco Evenepoel winning in 2019. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a team press release, sports director Wilfried Pieters said: "San Sebastian is always a hard race, everybody knows that. You’ve got a lot of climbing and an extremely tough ascent inside the last 10 kilometres, which since it has been added to the course, it’s been decisive almost every single time. 

"But we have a solid team, built around a former winner of the race, and we go there with the confidence that we can get a good result at the end of the day."

Alaphilippe will be supported by Mattia Cattaneo, who has just come off the back of a 12th place overall at the Tour, along with James Knox, Zdeněk Štybar, Mikkel Honoré, Pieter Serry and Dries Devenyns in what is a very solid team.

Riders will have to tackle 223.5km of racing taking on six categorised climbs including the famous Jaiskibel, an 8km ascent, as well as the final climb of the Murgil-Tontorra which is 2.1km at an average of 10.1 per cent gradient.

The race starts and finishes in San Sebastian with the race going in and out of the city throughout the race before finishing on the seafront boulevard next to the popular beach. It takes place on Saturday, July 31 on the same day as the much shorter women's event which is going to be racing its third edition of the event.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.