Report: Clasica San Sebastian

Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez wins the Spanish classic, Clasica San Sebastian, Aussie Simon Gerrans second

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Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) slipped away from a group of around 30 riders that formed on the descent of the last climb to solo across the line for victory while Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans won the bunch sprint to take second in the Spanish Classic, beating Gianni Meersman (Lotto Belisol) to the line.

It was a second win for Sanchez in the Clasica San Sebastian with the popular rider saying afterwards “Winning in your own country is still the best there is.” Gone was the exhaustion from the last few weeks and gone most importantly was the disappointment from the time trial in the Olympics, where he snapped his chain while still on the starting blocks and saw his chances for a medal go up in smoke. “That was not and is not easy to forget, but my first big race after that being in my own country has helped a bit, and if you win too, then everything’s basically all right again.”

“Of course, I returned from London feeling disappointed. That was hard, but I’m a professional, so you’ve just got to get past it. The fact that I could return to my own country and ride the first big race there was a good thing to latch on to. Ultimately, looking forward to this has kept me motivated in recent days. I was closely watched and its hard to win one, much less two.”

“The competition was also on really good form. But I was super motivated. The team too. Our preparation was also really good and the sports directors’ plan worked great. It went well all day. Everyone did what was expected of him. Early on I had the feeling that it might work out today. Our confidence was high and that only got higher as the race went on, since we had the initiative.”

After some attacks by Gesink and Mollema, Sanchez chanced it with twelve kilometres to go. It worked right away. “Of course it’s a win for me, but it’s also a really good win for the team. The team was right up there all day. When I attacked in the finale, Bauke Mollema especially put in fantastic work for me and Robert Gesink did later on too. It’s something you just can’t do alone. Everyone stuck to the plan, so the attack was already partly successful.”

The Aussie meanwhile, Simon Gerrans says “I’m pretty content with second place. Obviously it would have been great to sprint for the victory instead, but San Sebastian is my first race back after taking a short break after the Olympics. I’m happy to stand on the podium as I begin the last part of my season.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE was inconspicuous during the first four hours of racing that saw a two rider escape group break away from the bunch around the 35 kilometer mark. The Spanish duo, Adrian Palomares (Andalucia) and Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), built up a maximum advantage of 12 minutes before the mid-point of the race. Movistar and Liquigas set a relentless tempo on the first ascent of the Jaizikbel that effectively ended the early escape.

“During the first part of the race, there wasn’t much happening that we had to be concerned about,” explained Gerrans. “We weren’t worried about the two guys off the front staying away, so we focused on conservation. We knew the last 80 kilometers would be really hard, and this is where we chose to focus our efforts.”

Gerrans was well-positioned when the winning move began to take shape over the Arkale. He was joined by Cameron Meyer when the group finally solidified on the descent. “Basically, there were continuous attacks as we went up the final climb,” said Gerrans. “Groups would go away and come back together. The front group was constantly breaking up and reforming. I managed to survive over the final two climbs and not spend too much energy so that I would have something left for the final.”

Twelve kilometers from the finish, Sanchez attacked the group and immediately gained 30 meters. Although his lead would never grew beyond 13 seconds, he managed to hold off his chasers to take the win. “There were still plenty of guys attacking from behind who wanted to bridge across to Sanchez, but there was no organised chase to bring him back,” noted Gerrans. “When he still had a few seconds in the last three kilometers, I knew we weren’t going to catch him and that our race was for second at that point.”

“Christian Meier did a lot of work to help me in the peloton,” Gerrans added. “And Cam gave me a good lead-out in the last couple hundred meters. I’m happy to win the bunch sprint for second to finish off the team’s work.”

1 Luis Leon Sanchez Rabobank 5:55:34
2 Simon Gerrans Greenedge
3 Gianni Meersman Lotto
4 Christophe Le Mevel Garmin
5 Bauke Mollema Rabobank
6 Mauro Santambrogio Bmc
7. Mads Christensen Saxobank
8 Rodriguez Oliver Joaquin Katusha
9 Xavier Florencio
10 Diego Ulissi Lampre

16. Nicolas Roche Ag2r
18. Daniel Martin Garmin
24. Richie Porte Sky
25. Cameron Meyer Greenedge
26. Alejandro Valverde Movistar


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