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Barredo back for Clásica defense; Chavanel sidelined

Last year’s champion Carlos Barredo will be back to defend his title at Saturday’s Clásica San Sebastián in northern Spain with Quick Step, but the most combative rider at the Tour de France, Sylvain Chavanel, is sidelined with a toenail infection.

Barredo claimed a breakout victory in last year’s Clásica, which is Spain’s most important one-day race held over the steep hills of the Basque Country.

Barredo will be looking for success following some close-calls in the Tour, including stage 18 when he was caught with just one kilometer from the line by the breakaway group featuring Lance Armstrong. Barredo — who was involved in a finish-line ruckus with Rui Costa (Caisse d’Epargne) in stage 6 at the Tour – will be joined by Jérôme Pineau and a strong Quick Step team.

“There are many riders who are set on victory, however we are lining up for the start with a very competitive and motivated squad. In addition to Barredo, who already won last year, we can also count on Pineau and other riders whose skills are perfectly adapted to the San Sebastian route and who are fresh off an excellent Tour de France,” said Quick Step sport director David Bramati in a team statement. “It’s too bad Chavanel will be absent, he could have been one of the favorites for this race and he’s always been an important rider in the economy of the squad. As far as the course, in the final the Alto de Jaizkibel and the Alto de Arkale can be very decisive, but as always, we’ll have to be on the lookout for faraway breaks and pay close attention to the wind, which often influences the race.”

Chavanel — hot off two stage victories, a run in yellow and the most combative prize at the Tour – will be sidelined with a toe infection until the Tour du Limousin, August 17-20.

“I’ve had this problem already since the last stages of the Tour. On Tuesday, I rode in a criterium, which is a short race that lasts about an hour, but the pain was too strong and the foot swelled up so at the moment it’s unthinkable that I can take part in a high level race like San Sebastián,” Chavanel said. “The team and I have agreed that I shouldn’t participate in the Spanish classic, so I don’t risk compromising the season finals.”

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