Julian Alaphilippe has been forced to abandon his first race of the race, the Vuelta a San Juan.
The French superstar had a glowing performance in the 2019 edition of the race, winning two stages and finishing second overall.
But it wasn’t to be for the Deceuninck – Quick-Step puncheur this year, as he has been taken out of the race after suffering from stomach problems ahead of stage three.
Alaphilippe won’t be taking to the start of the stage three time trial after winning the ITT convincingly last year.
Quick-Step announced in a tweet on Tuesday (January 28): “Sadly, due to stomach problems, Julian Alaphilippe is forced to abandon the Vuelta a San Juan and won’t be at the start of today’s TT.
“We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Alaphilippe is following the same season build-up to last year, starting in Argentina before he moves onto the Tour Colombia 2.1 early next month before moving onto his major goals for the year.
The Vuelta a San Juan has proved a popular-early season testing ground for some of the biggest names in cycling, as Alaphilippe is joined by his team-mate Remco Evenpoel, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) racing south of the Equator.
Vuelta a San Juan is a 2.Pro seven-stage race around the San Juan province in western Argentina.
The opening stage was taken by Israel Start-Up Nation’s Rudy Barbier in a chaotic sprint finish, while stage two went to Gaviria in a pure sprinter’s drag race to the line.
But both stages have been marred by avoidable crashes, after a spectator caused a huge collision on the opening day.
A dog then caused a fall among the breakaway when running across the road on day two.