Events

Surprise winner at San Sebastián

There were a lot of smashing fists on handlebars Saturday as the relatively unheralded Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) surprised a host of favorites with an early sprint to win the Clásica San Sebastián. The 26-year-old held off Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) and Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) to score just his second victory of his professional career, leaving the frustrated runner’s up to bash their handlebars in an opportunity missed. “I wouldn’t have bet on it,” Florencio said with a smile when asked if he thought he was going to win the 225km, five-climb classic around the hills of

By Andrew Hood

Florencio becomes the third Spanish winner here in as many years

Florencio becomes the third Spanish winner here in as many years

Photo: AFP

There were a lot of smashing fists on handlebars Saturday as the relatively unheralded Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) surprised a host of favorites with an early sprint to win the Clásica San Sebastián.

The 26-year-old held off Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) and Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) to score just his second victory of his professional career, leaving the frustrated runner’s up to bash their handlebars in an opportunity missed.

“I wouldn’t have bet on it,” Florencio said with a smile when asked if he thought he was going to win the 225km, five-climb classic around the hills of Spain’s Basque Country. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) finished ninth as Florencio delivered the biggest surprise of the day.

“It was kind of a crazy sprint, one that anyone could have won,” Florencio described. “I saw a hole with 600 meters to go and started my sprint early. It didn’t go as the others expected and I ended up winning.”

A lead group of 52 riders roared into glamorous San Sebastián to fight for the spoils of Spain’s most important one-day race after a three-man break involving Carlos Sastre (CSC), Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) were reeled in with just under 5km to go.

“It was the headwind that ended our chances,” said Mayo, fresh off winning the Vuelta a Burgos earlier this week. “If not, I think we could have arrived to fight for the victory.”

Alejandro Valverde, racing for the first time since crashing out of the Tour de France in stage three with a broken clavicle, was eighth to retain his lead in the overall ProTour standings.

Garzelli, Florencio and Kashechkin

Garzelli, Florencio and Kashechkin

Photo: Graham Watson

“I felt good on the Jaizkibel and my team believed in my chances and worked to reel in the break, but my legs couldn’t respond in the sprint,” said Valverde, who widened his ProTour lead to 50 points to Frank Schleck (CSC). “The most important thing is that I felt good to be racing again and this is important looking ahead to the Vuelta.”

The main peloton splintered over the day’s main hurdle, the Cat. 1 Alto de Jaizkibel with 32km to go, when Sastre attacked on the lower flanks of the spectacular climb towering above the glittering Bay of Biscayne. Following his lead were Mayo and Menchov and they nursed a 20-second lead over the summit.

“The attack was more of a test to see how my legs recovered from the efforts of the Tour,” said Sastre, who is mulling whether he’ll race his third grand tour of the season with the Vuelta later this month. “We were collaborating well in the break, but the strong headwind spoiled our chances. I felt good on the climb, so I have to be satisfied with the day’s effort.”

Garzelli showed good form on Saturday

Garzelli showed good form on Saturday

Photo: Andrew Hood

Blood tests, early move
Huge crowds of curious holidaymakers and diehard Basque fans turned out to cheer on 22 teams taking the start despite the threat of rain in the morning.

A few big names were last-minute non-starters, including Oscar Freire (Rabobank), out with dizzy spells, and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), who was tired after his second-place effort at the Tour of Germany, Gerolsteiner officials said.

The race started with pre-competition blood screenings, with 46 riders from six teams (Francaise des Jeux, Milram, Relax-Gam, Quick Step, Bouygues Telecom and Phonak) getting an early morning call from the UCI “vampires.” No riders were ruled inapt.

The first hour of racing was hard and uneven until a breakaway could form, with the average speed at a brisk 46.7 kph. Several efforts were reeled in, including moves by Jason McCartney and Michael Barry (Discovery Channel). McCartney pulled clear early with Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom), but were reeled in just 42km into the race.

Spanish rider Jon Bru (Kaiku) finally extracted himself and built up a 1:48 lead on the main pack at 59km. He widened that lead to more than 15 minutes over the next 40km before the peloton finally came to life. Bru hung out front long enough to win the day’s best climber’s prize, but was reeled in coming to the base of the Jaizkibel climb.

Three free over the Jaizkibel
The last time a rider broke clear over the Jaizkibel and held off a big chase group to win was Paolo Bettini, who won in 2003 ahead of Ivan Basso after the two stayed away over the dramatic climb.

On the lower flanks of the twisting climb, Sastre took his chance and tore away from the main bunch, with Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) giving chase.

Mayo also shot out, but Frank Schleck (CSC) stayed glued on his wheel. Menchov also bridged out to the chase group. The two groups came together to five off the front, but the quickly dissolving lead group wasn’t far behind. Also bridging out were Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) and Patxi Vila (Lampre).

Another acceleration by Mayo splintered free Menchov and Sastre and the trio pulled clear at the trees to open a gap on the desperately struggling main pack in their wake.

Mayo - recovered from a poor Tour - is back

Mayo – recovered from a poor Tour – is back

Photo: Andrew Hood

Ricco, Schleck, Zubeldia and Figueras were chasing with Valverde was leading the main group. The chasing counter-attackers were brought back, leaving Mayo, Menchov and Sastre to battle the wind.

The trio led the way over the Jaizkibel about 20 seconds ahead of a group of about 20 riders, with another 10 chasing through at 30 seconds.

The leading threesome worked well together and hit the top of the Cat. 3 Gurutze climb with 14km to go with their gap holding steady at 19 seconds. Brisk winds blowing up the valley off the Basque coast spoiled their chances.

With the finish line within shooting distance, counter-attacks started with Petrov taking a stab. Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) were well-placed, but Team CSC’s Schleck was marking all the moves.

Caisse d’Epargne were organizing a chase behind the leading three and brought the gap down to 10 seconds with six kilometers to go. They were dead in the water, with the peloton closing in with 5km to go and the trio sat up, ending their Jaizkibel adventure.

With the breakaway reeled in, riders started to counter-attack in the final run into San Sebastian. Astana and Lampre sent riders away, but Caisse d’Epargne led a chaotic chase.

Once the peloton hit the final finishing straight, Florencio saw his opening and walked straight through to claim Bouygues Telecom’s first big classic victory in seven years of racing.

Photo: AFP

Results
1. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, 225km in 5:32:45
2. Stefano Garzelli (I), Liquigas
3. Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz), Astana
4. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Crédit Agricole
5. Cristian Moreni (I), Cofidis
6. Mirko Celestino (I), Milram
7. Ricardo Serrano Gonzalez (Sp), Kaiku
8. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne
9. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel
10. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, all same time

Photo Gallery

Results

Results
1. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, 225km in 5:32:45

2. Stefano Garzelli (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

3. Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz), Astana

4. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole

5. Cristian Moreni (I), Cofidis

6. Mirko Celestino (I), Milram

7. Ricardo Serrano (Sp), Kaiku

8. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

9. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel

10. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

11. Manuele Mori (I), Saunier Duval

12. Thomas LÖvkvist (Swe), Francaise des Jeux

13. Riccardo Ricco (I), Saunier Duval

14. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank

15. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank

16. Andrea Moletta (I), Gerolsteiner

17. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

18. Marzio Bruseghin (I), Lampre

19. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), Rabobank

20. Francisco Javier Vila (Sp), Lampre

21. Frank Schleck (Lux), CSC

22. Juan José Cobo (Sp), Saunier Duval

23. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC

24. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), Lampre

25. David Herrero (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

26. Mikel Astarloza (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance

27. Sylvain Calzati (F), Ag2r Prevoyance

28. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), Rabobank

29. Matthias Russ (G), Gerolsteiner

30. Didier Rous (F), Bouygues Telecom

31. José Miguel Elias (Sp), REG

32. Giuliano Figueras (I), Lampre

33. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis

34. José Iván Gutierrez (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

35. Daniel Moreno (Sp), REG

36. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

37. Jorge Garcia (Sp), REG

38. Giovanni Visconti (I), Milram

39. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Astana

40. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas-Bianchi

41. Antonio Colom (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne

42. José Luis Rubiera (Sp), Discovery Channel

43. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner

44. Inigo Landaluze (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

45. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC

46. Iban Mayo (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi

47. Luis PÉrez (Sp), Cofidis

48. Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz), Astana

49. José Azevedo (P), Discovery Channel

50. Carlos Castaño (Sp), Kaiku

51. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Caisse d'Epargne, at all same time

52. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at at 0:08

53. Simon Gerrans (Aus), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 5:03

54. José Alberto BenÍtez (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 5:03

55. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole, at 5:03

56. Jérôme Pineau (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 5:03

57. Uros Murn (SLO), Phonak, at 5:03

58. Matej Jurco (SVK), Milram, at 5:03

59. Walter Beneteau (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 5:03

60. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Phonak, at 5:03
61. Alessandro Spezialetti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 5:03

62. Rémi Pauriol (F), Credit Agricole, at 5:03

63. Assan Bazayev (Kaz), Astana, at 5:03

64. Jonathan McCarty (USA), Phonak, at 5:03

65. Rubén Oarbeascoa (Sp), Kaiku, at 5:03

66. Christophe Le Mevel (F), Credit Agricole, at 5:03

67. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 5:03

68. Francesco Failli (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 5:03

69. Michael Barry (Can), Discovery Channel, at 5:03

70. Imanol Erviti (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne, at 5:03

71. José Luis Arrieta (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 5:08

72. Aketza Peña (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 5:08

73. José Antonio Garrido (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 5:08

74. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Rabobank, at 5:08

75. Cédric Vasseur (F), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 5:08

76. David George (RSA), REG, at 5:08

77. Steve Zampieri (Swi), Phonak, at 5:08

78. Pierrick Fedrigo (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 5:08

79. Iñigo Chaurreau (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 5:08

80. Christophe Moreau (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 5:08

81. Wim Van Huffel (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:08

82. Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe), Francaise des Jeux, at 5:08

83. Ángel Vallejo (Sp), REG, at 5:08

84. Ángel GÓmez (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 5:08

85. Johann Tschopp (Swi), Phonak, at 5:08

86. Michael Boogerd (Nl), Rabobank, at 5:08

87. Bingen FernÁndez (Sp), Cofidis, at 5:08

88. Maxime Monfort (B), Cofidis, at 5:08

89. José Antonio Redondo (Sp), Astana, at 5:08

90. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole, at 5:08

91. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Cofidis, at 5:08

92. Samuel SÁnchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 5:08

93. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Cofidis, at 5:08

94. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre, at 5:08

95. Sergio Ghisalberti (I), Milram, at 5:08

96. Björn Leukemans (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:08

97. David Millar (GB), Saunier Duval, at 5:08

98. Charles Wegelius (GB), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 5:08

99. Lorenzo Bernucci (I), T-Mobile, at 5:08

100. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), T-Mobile, at 5:08

101. Salvatore Commesso (I), Lampre, at 5:08

102. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 5:08

103. Leonardo Duque (Col), Cofidis, at 5:51

104. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, at 6:21

105. Antonio Berasategui (Sp), Kaiku, at 11:19

106. Jorge Azanza (Sp), Kaiku, at 11:19

107. José Antonio Lopez (Sp), Kaiku, at 11:19

108. Iván GilmartÍn (Sp), Kaiku, at 11:19

109. Yon Bru (Sp), Kaiku, at 11:19

110. Mario De Sarraga (Sp), REG, at 11:19

111. David Navas (Sp), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 11:19

112. Nacor Burgos (Sp), REG, at 11:19

113. Fabien Patanchon (F), Francaise des Jeux, at 11:19

114. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank, at 11:19

115. Scott Davis (Aus), T-Mobile, at 11:19

116. Francesco Bellotti (I), Credit Agricole, at 11:19

117. Mikel Pradera (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne, at 11:19

118. Matthew White (Aus), Discovery Channel, at 11:19

119. Christophe Brandt (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

120. Raúl Garcia De Mateo (Sp), REG, at 11:19

121. Pavel Padrnos (Cz), Discovery Channel, at 11:19

122. Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

123. Christophe Mengin (F), Francaise des Jeux, at 11:19

124. Johan Van Summeren (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

125. Mario Aerts (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

126. Sandy Casar (F), Francaise des Jeux, at 11:19

127. Pieter Mertens (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

128. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, at 11:19

129. Luis FernÁndez (Sp), Phonak, at 11:19

130. Yannick Talabardon (F), Credit Agricole, at 11:19

131. Juan Manuel Garate (Sp), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 11:19

132. Peter Luttenberger (A), CSC, at 11:19

133. Luis León Sánchez (Sp), Astana, at 11:19

134. Aitor Perez Arrieta (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne, at 11:19

135. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 11:19

136. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery Channel, at 11:19

137. Matthieu Sprick (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 11:19

138. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), Phonak, at 11:19

139. Anthony Charteau (F), Credit Agricole, at 11:19

140. Laurent Lefevre (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 11:19

141. Carl Naibo (F), Ag2r Prevoyance, at 11:19

142. Alessandro Vanotti (I), Milram, at 11:19

143. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 11:19

144. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 11:19

145. Rubén Lobato (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 11:19

146. Aaron Olsen (USA), Saunier Duval, at 11:19

147. Addy Engels (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 11:19

148. Pieter Weening (Nl), Rabobank, at 11:19

149. Paolo Tiralongo (I), Lampre, at 11:19

150. Alberto Ongarato (I), Milram, at 11:19