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Clasica San Sebastián 30/7 - 220.2 km

Aug 16, 2013
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For sure, the cycling world already looks to 6th of august. On that day, the best riders in the world are fighting for eternal fame and a gold medal in the always sunny Río. But tomorrow it's time for another beautiful one day race: Donostia, or for international viewers: Clasica San Sebastian. It's a race which doesn't get the spotlights it actually deserves. In the past, a lot of great riders emerged as ganadors: Miguel Indurain, Marino Lejaretta, Paolo Bettini, Francesco Casagrande, Claudio Chiapucci, Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde.

Last year, unfortunately, it was a horrible edition. Not in terms of actual racing, but by major errors by the organisation. It looked Greg Van Avermaet was on his way to a great victory, but a motorbike crashed in front of the Belgium rider, which resulted in a crash for strong Greg, and chaos in the chasing group (some riders had to brake because of the motor bike and people who were standing on the road). Eventually, Adam Yates could profit from it to break away on the last climb. A great win for the British climber: if he knew he actually won the race. He only realised he did won after his comical finish.

So i think we'll all agree this race deserves better. So hopefully this year the gaps will be made by the favorites itself. The route for sure provides opportunities for that.

Top 10 - 2015

1. Adam Yates
2. Philippe Gilbert
3. Alejandro Valverde
4. Daniel Moreno
5. Joaquim Rodriguez
6. Bauke Mollema
7. Daniel Martin
8. Julian Alaphilippe
9. Warren Barguil
10. Rigoberto Uran



The first 190 km are (practically) the same as last years. Turning point in the race is ofcourse the climb of the mythical Jaizkibel. Actually, if you look at the impact of this climb on the race, it's not that big. The race will not be decided on the flanks of the Jaizkibel. Most likely a group of 50 riders will crest the summit, like previous editions. The climb of Arkale (at 32 km from the finish) is shorter and decently steep, but like the Jaizkibel it will not create significant gaps between the big guys.

However, the final climb will. After the motorbike-gate last year, the organization decided to skip the Bordako Tontorra. Instead, another steep muro will likely decide if the race is going to be decided in the sprint, or a cyclist who's strong to drop his rivals on the steep slopes and solo in for the remaining 8 km's.


The Murgil Bidea is only 1.9 km in length, but really steep. The average gradient is 10.5%, but the final 600 meters kicks up to 12.5%, with maximum pitches up to 19%. After this climb, there is a sharp, technical and fast descent of 4 km's. After this descent, there still 3 flat km's left. A good climber can make the difference on the Bidea, a good descender in the 4 km technical descent.

Men to watch

1. Alejandro Valverde


El Imbatido. Bala. Piti. Call him what you like, but one thing is clear: this guy is one of the best classics rider of the past 20 years. He won a lot of big one day races during his long spanned career. So for sure, he must have won this race too. Right? Of course: two times to be precise. In 2008 he won Donostia for the first time by beating Kolobnev and Rebellin the sprint. In 2014, he managed to ride away from Purito on the descent of the last climb, and soloed to a beautiful victory. Last year he finished 3rd. It will be a big shock if he doesn't finish on the podium again this year. But can he win it for the 3rd time? He showed in the last mountain stages in the Tour he's ready to give it a serious try.

2. Purito Rodriguez


2nd in 2005. 3rd in 2011 and 2014. 5th in 2010 and 2015. 8th in 2012. A lot of good results for the tiny explosive Spaniard in this race. But no win. He's got 1 chance left to win the only Spanish WT-classic, because Purito will retire at the end of the year. If Rodriguez wants to win, he needs to drop all of his rivals on the final steep climb. He's got a good sprint on the flat, but he's got no chance against the likes of Valverde, Van Avermaet, Martin and Kwiatkowski. In his prime, Purito was the king of short, steep climbs. Back then it was not a big task for him to drop all of his rivals on climbs like Murgil Bidea. However, for the 2016 Purito, it has become a little bit more difficult. He failed to make an impact in the first part of 2016. However, Purito finally have reached peak shape. He showed that in the previous Tour. He was 2nd on the Mont Blanc, and he was the only GC rider who was able to ride away on the Joux-Plane. In these stages, he showed for the first time this year the old Purito is not completely gone yet. In case those legs haven't disappeared in the past seven days, it's still possible for Purito to arrive solo in San Sebastian.

3. Greg Van Avermaet


If that motorbike didn't crash last year, maybe the CSS would have a different winner. Greg van Avermaet rode away on the first slopes of the final climb, and had a solid gap over the chasers when he crashed. So Donostia 2016 should be the race of revenge for GvA. The BMC-rider should not be worried about his shape. 2016 can be qualified as Greg's strongest season. Apart from that dramatic crash in the Tour of Flanders, he already won the Omloop, Tirreno and a stage in the Tour. In the first week, he perhaps even was the leading figure in the peloton because he also worse yellow for a couple of days. Like Valverde and Purito, Van Avermaet always shows good form and racing spirit. The final climb may be a little bit too steep for him to really follow the best puncheurs. But did anyone thought last year he could crest the summit of Tontorra in first position? If he's able to survive the final climb, he's clearly one of the favorites because he's really fast in a flat sprint and he has a lot got power on the flat for one final vicious attack.

4. Daniel Martin: Rode a strong Tour. The final climbs suits him down to the ground, and he can sprint.
5. Adam Yates: Defending champion. Relevation in the previour Tour with a 4th place in GC + white jersey. But the fact he had to go deep in France, makes me wonder if he's able to get things straight for this race.
6. Ion Izagirre: saved Movistar's Tour in Morzine. Knows how to win races, can ride solo, has quite a good kick and a decent sprint. Could profit from the fact everyone will look at Bala to sort things out.
7. Michal Kwiatkowski: Despite winning E-3, he has flown under the radar. Was decent in Poland. Can he perform even better here?
8. Luis Leon Sanchez: Two-time winner. Rode strong in the third week of the Tour in service of Aru. If there is an attack that sticks till the end, Lulu will be there for sure.
9. Samuel Sanchez: He's working towards the Vuelta. Thats why he hasn't been mentioned a lot the past days. But if he's able to reach his Liege shape, he can win this race for the first time.
10. Bauke Mollema: 3rd in 2014. Had a tough third Tour-week, but likes this race. Without a doubt he will be up there.
11. Jarlinson Pantano: Let's hope he rides this race the same as he did in the Tour. In that case, he can die 32 times, but still emerge as the king of San Sebastian!


Apart from the riders mentioned above, a lot of other big names are expecting to show up. The biggest one is Alberto Contador, who makes his comeback after his Tour de France crash. He says he's just riding this race to get used to racing again. But watch out with Contador and statements in the media :p

Other cyclists to watch are Diego Ulissi, Tony Gallopin and Tiesj Benoot, Warren Barguil, Illnur Zakarin, Rigoberto Uran, Hugh Carthy, Gianluca Brambilla, Simon Yates, Mikel Landa and many more!
I think the course is basically the same as the previous two years. Murgil is almost identical to Bordako Tontorra, starting and finishing at nearly the same point and with very similar gradients. The final 8km to the line are exactly the same as last two years as well, so could get a similar scenario, with one rider going clear over the top or on the descent, and the others not working well enough together to bring them back in.

Looks a great start list this year - I think a puncheur will take it rather than a climber. Maybe someone like GVA or Gallopin. Perhaps Stybar or Kiwat as well if they are given a free role.
Feb 6, 2016
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Be great to see Benoot do well, although I believe he likes it cold/rainy. He could develop into a rider who is very good at punchy races like this one. Gallopin to take it if there's a sprint, Murito to do his Murito best, Uran if he's in any kind of shape.
Great write-up Arredondo! I was hoping someone would post something like this before the race.

I should try to watch this live because every previous occasion I've had no idea what the heck was going on from the TV. Live text updates in this thread and Cyclingnews are a big help.

Arredondo said:
On that day, the best riders in the world are fighting for eternal fame and a gold medal in the always sunny Río.

Fun fact: Seattle is just as sunny as Rio. Even Chicago is significantly sunnier!
Jun 30, 2014
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Gigs_98 said:
Is wellens riding? If yes I expect an attack on jaizkibel together with contador ;)
Otherwise I'm rooting for purito. Ulissi would also be cool. I think that guy deserves a WT classic on his palmares.
Ulissi has fans? :D
Strong field, no idea who's gonna win, Felline to finish top 5.

ILovecycling said:
**** route it is
dull race incoming
Yes, unfortunately this race has become a fleche wallone with a descent after the final ramp. Jaizkibel is 55 km away from the finish and most of the remaining route is flat. Nobody can attack there and even if someone would want, the jaizkibel isn't overly difficult. If they want action so early they need something like the muro di Sormano.
Aug 16, 2013
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Forgot about Tim Wellens indeed.

But i don't expect him to win such a race. It will not rain, and we have seen it's impossible even for Wellens to go solo in similair races like Amstel and Fleche.

Maybe he can be part of a break who gets the green light to fight for the win. But even then i think there are more explosive riders then him.

TourOfSardinia said:

now live saying at 50km from start Break with ~5'
Moreno MOSER (134, CDT)
Mario COSTA (106, LAM)
Pirmin LANG (IAM,164),
Jaime ROSON (CJR, 188)
Loic CHETOUT (COF, 193)
Peloton to underestimate breakaway and start chasing when it's too late.

Moser to win! :eek: