The Frenchman was the pre-race favourite to take the win and successfully defend his title, having beaten Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) in a two-up sprint at last year’s edition.
Back on the bike less than a week after arriving at the Champs-Élysées following a gruelling three weeks of racing at the Tour de France 2019, a number of riders who starred in France struggled in Spain.
Only 81 of the 154 riders who took the start line finished the race, with Tour champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) dropped with 76km to go and not finishing the race.
Other notable abandons include Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Mikel Landa (Movistar), Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).
The reason for Alaphilippe’s abandon was not immediately confirmed by his team, however Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Wilfried Peeters has since shed some light.
“I had to motivate Julian Alaphilippe to ride the Clasica San Sebastian,” Peeters said. “He is really tired after his long hours of effort on the Tour,” before adding, “it’s just a pity that he had to come.”
Alaphilippe ignited the 2019 French Grand Tour, taking two stage wins and wearing the yellow jersey for 14 days, at one point looking like he could take it all the way to Paris before running out of steam in the Alps.
After a 2019 that had already featured a packed spring Classics schedule, where the 27-year-old won Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and La Flèche Wallonne, it is understandable the Frenchman needs a rest before his next challenge, presumably the Worlds in Yorkshire.
Alaphilippe’s team-mate, Dries Devenyns was critical of the UCI WorldTour schedule following the race, as Johan Bruyneel highlighted there were three WorldTour races one week after the Tour de France and three weeks before the Vuelta a España, claiming the volume of races was not good for anyone.
Devenyns agreed with this sentiment, saying “I came to San Sebastián with physical problems you cannot imagine, just to not to get fined”.