Events

It’s Jalabert in San Sebastian

Laurent Jalabert scored the big victory Saturday in the Clasica San Sebastianthat eluded him during three weeks at the 2002 Tour de France. After a string of close calls in his final Tour, Jalabert can go tothe retirement home a happy man. The Frenchman helped break the race onthe category-one Jaizkibel climb in the 223-km seventh stop of the 2002World Cup and was fastest in a five-up sprint coming into the windy finishin San Sebastian. Jalabert scored his second straight Clasica victory in what is his first-- and last -- race in Spain this year. Jalabert’s CSC-Tiscali team won’tbe racing

By Andrew Hood

Soon-to-be-retiree: Jalabert knows how to exit in style.

Soon-to-be-retiree: Jalabert knows how to exit in style.

Photo: Graham Watson

Laurent Jalabert scored the big victory Saturday in the Clasica San Sebastianthat eluded him during three weeks at the 2002 Tour de France.

After a string of close calls in his final Tour, Jalabert can go tothe retirement home a happy man. The Frenchman helped break the race onthe category-one Jaizkibel climb in the 223-km seventh stop of the 2002World Cup and was fastest in a five-up sprint coming into the windy finishin San Sebastian.

Jalabert scored his second straight Clasica victory in what is his first– and last — race in Spain this year. Jalabert’s CSC-Tiscali team won’tbe racing the Vuelta a Espana and the Frenchman’s last race of his careerwill be the world championships in Belgium.

For Jalabert this was 'a good course.'

For Jalabert this was ‘a good course.’

Photo: Graham Watson

“It’s a good course for me. I had a lot of confidence because I won lastyear and I knew that I had good sensations,” said Jalabert, who won in5 hours, 47 minutes, 29 seconds with an average speed of 39.2 kph. “It’sbetter to leave racing with a win and the spectacle instead of stayingaround like a beaten dog.”

George Hincapie suffered a harrowing crash on the descent off the Jaizkibelclimb some 20 miles from the finish line. Hincapie and U.S. Postal Serviceteammate Lance Armstrong were well-positioned coming down the steep descentwhen Hincapie slid off the road. Hincapie lay crumpled behind a trafficguard and several riders coming down almost hit his bike, still lying inthe middle of the road.

He was transported to a hospital in nearby Irun, Spain, and early reportsindicated Hincapie suffered scrapes to his left leg but no broken bones.There was no word yet on whether or not Hincapie will be able to race asscheduled next Sunday in Switzerland as planned.

Meanwhile, Armstrong rode a strong race, attacking hard on the Jaizkibeland chasing with some heady company, David Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) andFrancesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo). In the end, the Jalabert group stayedaway and Armstrong finished 46th as part of a group of 41 riders at 41seconds back.

Domo’s Johann Museeuw maintained his hold on the World Cup’s overall leader’s whitejersey despite giving up 28 points to second-place Paolo Bettinim (Mapei),who finished seventh in the stage.

“This is a race very hard for me, but I knew that coming it,” Museeuwsaid. “It was a good day even though Bettini took some points, but we’llsee about the World Cup after Zurich. Paris-Tours is a better race forme.”

Early escape
The action started early when 180 riders took the start in San Sebastianand light rain began to fall just as the riders pulled away. Mikel Pradera(ONCE) and Nico Mattan (Cofidis) both tried to escape in the first 15 km.Two riders — Jose Miguel Mercado (ibanesto.com) and Constantino Zaballa(Kelme) – attacked at 19 km on the day’s first of six rated climbs, thecategory-three Alto de Orio. The peloton saw no reason to chase hard andthe pair quickly built up a gap of 4:45 at 34 km.

There hasn’t been a Spanish winner at the Clasica since Miguel Indurainwon in 1990. Mercado and Zaballa had good legs, with Zaballa just comingoff a strong Tour de France and Mercado coming into form with the Vueltaa top goal in September. The pair built up a gap of 15:20 and the racewas on to see if the Spanish drought would end.

Riders started to abandon midway through the race, including ONCE’sJoseba Beloki, Cofidis’ David Millar and ibanesto.com’s Leonardo Piepoli.Despite threatening skies, it never rained very hard throughout the race.U.S. Postal Service, CSC-Tiscali and Gerolsteiner went to the front andtook turns driving hard. Coming to the base of the Jaizkibel, Mercado andZaballa’s lead was still north of four minutes, but quickly shrinking.

Up the Jaizkibel
Up the early flanks of the Jaizkibel, Andrei Kivilev (Cofidis) wasthe first jump off the front and quickly shot past Zaballa and Mercado.With 38 km to go, Jalabert tried to shake the peloton and then Lampre’sGabrielle Missaglia. Finally, Missaglia, Jalabert, Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali),Kivilev and Alessio’s Raffaele Ferrara formed a group just 16 seconds offthe front.

Armstrong was driving hard at the lead group while Ferrara dropped back.With about 1.5 km to the summit, Dario Frigo (Tacconi) bridged out of themain chase group, now down to about 20 riders after Armstrong’s accelerations.

Astarloa crossed the Jaizkibel first and the peloton came across at28 seconds back. Sastre lost contact on the descent and the break was downto Jalabert, Astarloa, Kivilev, Frigo and Missaglia.

Into the finish
Armstrong was working with Casagrande and Rebellin — between themthe winners of four Classicas — until a group of about 40 riders cametogether, 48 seconds behind Astarloa, Kivilev, Jalabert, Frigo and Missagliawith 19 km to go.

The five cleared the day’s final climb at the category-three Alto deGurutze with 13.5 km to go with a 1:04 advantage over the main bunch. Thegap held into the finish with a strong headwind on San Sebastian’s Boulevard.

Photo: Graham Watson

The group stayed together in the finale and Jalabert easily won thesprint. Astarloa came across second while Missaglia was third. Saeco’sDanilo Di Luca led four riders across the line at 35 seconds back whileGuennadi Mikhailov (Lampre) led the Armstrong group across at 41 secondsback.

In the end, 20 riders abandoned, 15 finished beyond the time limit –including Museeuw and Domo teammate Fred Rodriguez. Armstrong was the topAmerican at 46th while Bobby Julich (Telekom) finished 66th at 4:45 back.Tony Cruz (U.S. Postal Service) was 107th at 8:20 back, Kevin Livingston(Telekom) 130th and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) 132nd, both at 12:13 back.U.S. champion Chann McRae and Floyd Landis DNF’d.

Museeuw still in white
The race unfolded perfectly for Museeuw. The veteran Domo rider wonthe HEW Cyclassics last week to go along with his dramatic Paris-Roubaixvictory and came to the Clasica with the hope of keeping his jersey outof the hands of Bettini.

The break off the front played into Museeuw’s favor while Bettini admittedhe misread the race. Museeuw maintains a 68-point lead over Bettini, thewinner at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“I thought the right wheel would be with Rebellin, Casagrande and Armstrong.I guess I was wrong,” Bettini said. “I didn’t have the strength to staywith Jalabert and the strongest man won today. For the World Cup, it isa positive thing. I won some points on Museeuw and next week in Zurichis better for me.”

The eighth stop in the 10-race World Cup will go off as planned Sundayafter race organizers in Zurich agreed to prize money from last year’srace.

1. Laurent Jalabert , (F), CSC-Tiscali 5.47.30 39.19 km/h
2. Igor Astarloa , (Sp), Saeco-Longoni Sport
3. Gabriele Missaglia , (I), Lampre-Daikin
4. Andrei Kivilev , (Kz), Cofidis
5. Dario Frigo , (I), Tacconi Sport, all s.t.
6. Danilo Di Luca , (I), Saeco-Longoni Sport, at 0:35
7. Paolo Bettini , (I), Mapei-Quick Step
8. Nico Mattan , (B), Cofidis
9. Laurent Dufaux , (Swi), Alessio, all s.t.
10. Guennadi Mikhailov , (Rus), Lotto-Adecco, at 0:41
11. Oscar Freire , (Sp), Mapei-Quick Step
12. Mirko Celestino , (I), Saeco Longoni Sport
13. Marco Serpellini , (I), Lampre-Daikin
14. Oscar Camenzind , (Swi), Phonak
15. Davide Rebellin , (I), Gerolsteiner
16. Michele Bartoli , (I), Fassa Bortolo
17. Richard Virenque , (F), Domo-Farm Frites
18. Udo Bolts , (G), Telekom
19. Mario Aerts , (B), Lotto-Adecco
20. Dmitri Fofonov , (Kz), Cofidis
21. David Canada Garcia , (Sp), Mapei-Quick Step
22. Benjamin Noval , (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada
23. Andre Peron , (I), CSC-Tiscali
24. Alexandre Botcharov , (Rus), Ag2r-Prevoyance
25. Antonio Colom Mas , (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, all s.t.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Laurent Jalabert , (F), CSC-Tiscali 5.47.30 39.19 km/h

2. Igor Astarloa , (Sp), Saeco-Longoni Sport

3. Gabriele Missaglia , (I), Lampre-Daikin

4. Andrei Kivilev , (Kz), Cofidis

5. Dario Frigo , (I), Tacconi Sport, all s.t.

6. Danilo Di Luca , (I), Saeco-Longoni Sport, at 0:35

7. Paolo Bettini , (I), Mapei-Quick Step

8. Nico Mattan , (B), Cofidis

9. Laurent Dufaux , (Swi), Alessio, all s.t.

10. Guennadi Mikhailov , (Rus), Lotto-Adecco, at 0:41

11. Oscar Freire , (Sp), Mapei-Quick Step

12. Mirko Celestino , (I), Saeco Longoni Sport

13. Marco Serpellini , (I), Lampre-Daikin

14. Oscar Camenzind , (Swi), Phonak

15. Davide Rebellin , (I), Gerolsteiner

16. Michele Bartoli , (I), Fassa Bortolo

17. Richard Virenque , (F), Domo-Farm Frites

18. Udo Bolts , (G), Telekom

19. Mario Aerts , (B), Lotto-Adecco

20. Dmitri Fofonov , (Kz), Cofidis

21. David Canada Garcia , (Sp), Mapei-Quick Step

22. Benjamin Noval , (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada

23. Andre Peron , (I), CSC-Tiscali

24. Alexandre Botcharov , (Rus), Ag2r-Prevoyance

25. Antonio Colom Mas , (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, all s.t.