The Frenchman is expected to stay in South America for the Colombia 2.1 stage race as he lays the foundations for his 2019 season and another assault at the Ardennes Classics. He has also set Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo as early season objectives. Alaphilippe won Flèche Wallonne, two stages and the climber’s polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France and the overall classification at the Tour of Britain in 2018.
The Vuelta a San Juan will be held between January 27 and February 3. The six-days of racing include a 12km individual time trial and a key mountain finish on stage 5 to Alto Colorado. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) have already confirmed they will ride the Vuelta a San Juan. Nairo Quintana will lead the Movistar team, while Fernando Gaviria will make his debut with UAE Team Emirates and challenge Cavendish and Sagan in the sprints.
"I am happy I've decided to start in San Juan. It will be my first time to compete in Argentina and I'm looking forward to discovering the country that so many beautiful things I've heard about: its people, the race and the environment that surrounds it," Alaphilippe said in an announcement from race organisers.
"I've spoken with Max Richeze because I'm curious to know his country, so I think it's a smart decision to make this debut in San Juan."
Cavendish will make his 2019 debut at the Vuelta a San Juan after recovering from a second bout of the Epstein-Barr virus. Sagan will travel to Argentina from Australia after riding the Tour Down Under. Sam Bennett will offer Bora-Hansgrohe an alternative in the sprints, with Tiesj Benoot leading the Lotto Soudal team.
Alaphilippe is expected to have the support of double junior world champion Remco Evenepoel, experienced lead out man Richeze, while Colombia’s Alvaro Hodeg is set to be Deceuninck-Quick-Step sprinter.
Argentina’s Gonzalo Najar won the 2018 race but tested positive for the blood-boosting drug CERA and was recently suspended for four years by the UCI.
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