The 2016 Clásica San Sebastián

The Donostia-Donostia Klasikoa (Basque) — Clásica San Sebastián (Spanish): a cycle race that has been held every summer since 1981 in San Sebastián, Spain.

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The Clásica (or Klasikoa) is Spain’s biggest one-day cycling race and before their folding after the 2013 season, Basque-based cycling team Euskaltel-Euskadi were a prominent feature in their distinct orange kits. However this year’s prominent feature was the revival of Bauke Mollema (Trek), who came 2nd in the 2014 Klasikoa and had cracked in the last two days of the Tour de France, falling from 2nd to 11th overall.

The 2016 Klasikoa featured three Category 2 climbs and three Category 1 climbs, yet like before had no dramatic showdown as 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) had crashed on the descent and gave the victory to Valverde (Movistar), while in 2015 Yates had rode ahead and taken the win after Van Avermaet (BMC) had been hit by a motorbike. This year both were looking for another Klasikoa win, alongside Luis León Sánchez (Astana) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal).

Six riders got an early yet large break, with Jamie Roson (Cajal Rural), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Drapac), Loic Chetout (Cofidis), Jaques Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling) and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) getting a lead of 5:20. Katusha were seen doing a large amount of work at the front of the peloton, with Zakarin at San Sebastián as he had been banned from participating at the Rio Olympics for a prior doping offence. They were working for Joaquim Rodríguez, who had announced his plans for retirement after this season at the Tour de France. Also missing the Olympics was Contador (Tinkoff), who had abandoned the Tour de France and is now aiming for La Vuelta.

After 110km the break were kept at around 5 minutes, yet the Category 1 climb of the Alto de Jaizkibel saw their lead reduced to just over 3. With 80km to the finish the riders approached the Arkale climb, the break only a minute ahead as Movistar led the peloton. Rodríguez had dropped back from the peloton, needing his teammate yet was soon back in the bunch. With 60km to go, Vichot hit teammate Geniez’s (FDJ) wheel and they crashed, with Vichot’s hand injured by wheel spokes.

Cataldo (ex-Sky, now Astana) attacked on the Jaizkibel climb, while Landa (ex-Astana, now Sky) followed. Other riders tried to bridge to them yet failed, causing a split of two groups in front of the peloton. With 50km to go and on the descent of the Jaizkibel however, they were caught before they could gain too much time. On the ascent of the Arkale climb, Vilella split the peloton riding for leader Uran (Cannondale), a move which saw Contador dropped. At just under 30km to go, Movistar took over for Cannondale, working hard for their leader Valverde who last won the Klasikoa in 2014.

The Orica riders were then strong on the front, with Durbridge, Juul-Jenson and Impey (or ‘Durbo’, ‘Joker’ and ‘Imps’ as they’re known on the Backstage Pass) doing long turns for leader Adam Yates, looking for a consecutive Klasikoa win after last year. At just under 10km to go, Uran attacked and Yates followed him, alongside Dan Martin (Etixx) and Rodríguez. Mollema had attacked behind while Tony Gallopin (Lotto – 2013 winner) and Valverde followed, reluctant to take their turn on the front. Mollema powered ahead, distancing them as Gallopin and Valverde then found Rodríguez. The trio tried to bridge to Mollema, yet it was not enough. He reached the line first, arms in the air.

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For the cyclists not at the Olympics, some will feature at the Tour of Utah from the 1st of August to the 7th. Mollema will represent the Netherlands at Rio, alongside Tom Dumoulin (provided he can after his Tour de France abandonment), Wout Poels and Steven Kruijswijk.

 

 

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(photos from cyclingnews.com and sbs.com.au)
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