Events

Zaballa wins San Sebastian

The only question coming into the final 20km of the 25th Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday wasn’t whether a Saunier Duval rider was going to win, but rather which one. At least that’s how Chris Horner read the finale of the hilly 227km race in Spain’s Basque Country on a beautiful summer afternoon. “We just triple-teamed everyone,” Horner said after celebratory hugs at the finish line along San Sebastián’s posh Boulevard. “I hit first, then they hit after that, we started hitting and we got two in the group. I sat on everything in the back and just shut it down. It was

By Andrew Hood

Zaballa takes the Clásica

Photo: AFP

The only question coming into the final 20km of the 25th Clásica San Sebastián on Saturday wasn’t whether a Saunier Duval rider was going to win, but rather which one.

At least that’s how Chris Horner read the finale of the hilly 227km race in Spain’s Basque Country on a beautiful summer afternoon.

“We just triple-teamed everyone,” Horner said after celebratory hugs at the finish line along San Sebastián’s posh Boulevard. “I hit first, then they hit after that, we started hitting and we got two in the group. I sat on everything in the back and just shut it down. It was epic.”FULLRESULTS

The Spanish team put three riders – Horner, Joaquin Rodriguez and Constantino Zaballa – in the final selection of 26 riders that made it clear over the decisive Alto de Jaizkibel climb with 31km to go. In the end, it was Zaballa defending the team’s honor (Saunier Duval won last year with Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero).

Zaballa and Rodriguez snuck away moments after Horner counter-attacked to mark the winning seven-man breakaway with 8km to go. Four kilometers later, Zaballa bolted to deliver another big victory on the heels of the team’s victory last week at the Tour of Burgos with Juan Carlos Dominguez.

“To win a classic is something big,” said Zaballa, a fifth-year pro. “This morning we talked about going on the attack. I knew I had the legs and I had the mentality and I thought I would attack at least once, so I gave it a try. Now here we are.”

Bad stomach slows Di Luca

The 25th Clásica started with a visit from the UCI vampires, who tested 40 riders from five teams – Crédit Agricole, Quick Step, Domina Vacanze, Barloworld and Relax-Fuenlabrada. None were deemed “unfit” to race – meaning none of the tested riders were above the allowed 50 percent hematocrit level – and 188 riders from 24 teams signed in on a beautiful summer morning in classy San Sebastián.

DiLuca had a crook stomach and scored no ProTour points

DiLuca had a crook stomach and scored no ProTour points

Photo: Graham Watson

ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) was looking sharp in the white leader’s jersey, intent on gaining some points and widening his lead against a late charge from Bobby Julich (CSC).

Julich won the final stage and the overall at the Tour of Benelux last week to rise to fourth in the ProTour standings, just 54 points behind Di Luca. At the start of the race, Di Luca held 184 points, with retired Lance Armstrong in second with 139, Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) in third with 136 and Julich fourth with 130.

But in the end, an ailing Di Luca wasn’t able to score any points in the Spanish classic.

“Two days ago I had a bad stomach and I knew I wouldn’t be able to be a factor in a race as fast as the Clásica,” said Di Luca, who finished 94th at 3:55 back, well out of the points awarded to the top nine finishers.

“The most important thing was that none of my rivals in the ProTour earned any points, either. Now I will race in the Tour of Germany, which will be very important to earn more points. With 54 points, I don’t think this ProTour race is over.”

Other pre-race favorites included Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Igor Astarloa (Barloworld) and defending champion Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak).

Seven Americans – Christian Vande Velde (CSC), George Hincapie, Jonathan McCarty, Michael Creed and Tom Danielson (all Discovery Channel), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Chris Horner (Saunier Duval) – and one Canadian – Michael Barry (Discovery Channel) – were also among the protagonists.

Barry on the move

An early move was neutralized after coming over the day’s first of six rated climbs at the Cat. 3 Alto de Orio and Barry was soon on the march as part of the day’s main breakaway.

Several riders tore away on the approach to the more difficult Cat. 2 Alto de Garate at 29.3km. Joining Barry were Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval), Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Francisco Vila (Lampre-Caffita), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo) and Toni Tauler (Illes Balears).

The leaders would stay away over the Cat. 2 Alto de Azkarate at 59.3km and the Alto de Udana at 101.5km, with Lobato snagging the points along the way to earn the day’s mountain prize.

Barry, meanwhile, won two of the day’s five sprints, enough to earn him the “meta volantes” or hot -sprints classification for the day.

“I’m motivated for the rest of the season,” said Barry, a proud new father. “I’ve been training well and I have good form right now. I don’t know if I’ll do the Vuelta, but if not, I’ll try to have a good ride in the other races.”

Jaizkibel decides

The day’s main obstacle – the Cat. 1 Alto de Jaizkibel – soon took its toll on the leaders.

Moreau on the front

Moreau on the front

Photo: Graham Watson

Lobato, Moreau, Kessler and Vila stayed on the front, but the main bunch, led by an acceleration by David Moncoutie (Cofidis) that reeled in the attackers on the lower approaches of the Jaizkibel.

Carlos Sastre (CSC) opened hostilities with another shot that quickly fractured the main bunch on the long, twisting climb. Following the move was Denis Menchov (Rabobank), the Russian rider who had a disappointing Tour.

The two accelerations put the main bunch in tatters. Giving chase were Sastre, Davide Rebellin and Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner); Rodriguez, Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel); Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto); Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas-Bianchi); and Luis Perez (Cofidis). Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) drove the main peloton about 20 seconds back.

Menchov – who suffered through the Tour with a sore throat – drove alone on to the spectacular treeless ridgeline of the Jaizkibel, an amazing piece of geology jutting high above the surf beaches of Spain’s rugged Basque coast.

The proud Russian drove alone over the summit, with the chasers just a few seconds back. A few more solo drivers came through before about 20 riders summited at 58 seconds back.

“Today gives me confidence for the Vuelta,” said Menchov, who was reeled in on the descent and finished 19th. “After the Tour, I went to Moscow for a week to reconsider the rest of my season. I want to have a strong Vuelta after the disappointment of July.”

Looking strong was Leipheimer, who drove much of the way up the Jaizkibel and later went on the attack with Horner and two others on the Cat. 3 Alto de Gurutze at 213km.

Leipheimer and Horner at work

Leipheimer and Horner at work

Photo: Graham Watson

“I’ve always wanted to lead the climb up the Jaizkibel. I think it’s one of the most beautiful climbs in cycling,” said Leipheimer, who finished 26th at 1:06 back. “Horner and I, we hit the bottom of that last climb, but the rest of the group came back. He was strong. It’s nice to have a couple of Americans up there duking it out.”

As he’s done all season in his triumphant return to Europe, Horner made the most of the bumpy final run to San Sebastián. He attacked once before the Gurutze climb and then again with Leipheimer. The accelerations opened the door for Rodriguez and Zaballa to make the winning move, then Horner sat on wheels to slow the chase group.

“Everyone who knows me, I go for the team to win first and for me to win second. I’ve been on six teams in six years and I guarantee you everyone one of those teams will tell you that I never raced for myself first. I’ve always raced for my team,” Horner said. “I get as much satisfaction out of that as I do when I win. The only difference there is that when you win, you get a bigger paycheck.”

Moncouti in the escape

Moncouti in the escape

Photo: Graham Watson

Zaballa wins

Also joining Zaballa and Rodriguez were Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre-Caffita), Garzelli, Yon Bru (Kaiku), Moncoutie and Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel).

Just missing the final move was Tom Danielson, who made it over the Jaizkibel with some help from Tour de France stage winner George Hincapie.

When the lead group started to break up in the final charge to the line, Danielson’s legs cramped up just before the Gurutze climb with 12km to go.

“I cramped really bad on that last flat part right before the final short climb,” he said. “I just had to ride a little slower on that climb. It helped to know the race because this race was all new to me. I really enjoyed this race. It was a good experience.”

Zaballa gets the big bottle - and the even bigger Basque beret

Zaballa gets the big bottle – and the even bigger Basque beret

Photo: Graham Watson

Zaballa, meanwhile, knew he wasn’t the fastest sprinter in the leading seven and decided to take his chance an early attack. With about 4km to go, he shot up the right side of the road. The others looked at each other, each expecting another to give chase, and soon it was too late.

Zaballa, a fifth-year pro who just signed a contract to join Illes Balears for the 2006 season, poured everything into the attack. He rolled across the line with a 31-second gap, plenty of time to pump his fists in exultation.

“I want to become a big professional, so if you don’t win, then you’re not doing anything,” said Zaballa, 27. “I was fighting all season long and I worked hard for the Tour, but luck didn’t accompany me. I had to abandon, but now I will be a little fresher for the Vuelta and the end of the season, so I want to take advantage of the fitness I have now.”

Race note
Horner is poised to sign a deal to join Davitamon-Lotto for the 2006 season. Saunier Duval officials confirmed he’s leaving the team at the end of the season, though Horner is scheduled to race at the Barclays Global Investors Grand Prix in San Francisco in September as well as in the fall classics.

“We wanted to keep Chris, but Lotto came with a big offer,” said Saunier Duval team manager Mauro Gianetti. “There was no problem at all with Chris. We love how he’s been racing this season with us.”

Results-Clásica San Sebastián
1. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 5:24:18 (42:0 km/h),
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:31
3. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 0:31
4. Stefano Garzelli (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 0:31
5. Yon Bru (Sp), Kaiku, at 0:31
6. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis, at 0:31
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:31
8. Unai Yus (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:40
9. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Cofidis, at 0:40
10. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:43
FULLRESULTS

ProTour standings (after Clásica San Sebastián)
Individual

1. Danilo Di Luca (I), 184 pts
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), 139
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), 136
4. Bobby Julich (USA), 130
5. Tom Boonen (B), 120
6. Alessandro Petacchi (I), 111
7. Davide Rebellin (I), 101
8. Jan Ullrich (G), 98
9. Santiago Botero (Col), 95
10. Oscar Freire (Sp), 94

Team
1. CSC, 270 pts
2. Phonak, 269
3. Rabobank, 264
4. Davitamon, 263
5. Saunier Duval, 237
6. Liberty, 219
7. CrZdit Agricole, 216
8. T-Mobile, 212
9. Discovery Channel, 212
10. Fassa Bortolo, 203

Photo Gallery

Results

Results – Clásica San Sebastián
1. Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 5:24:18 (42:0 km/h),
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:31
3. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 0:31
4. Stefano Garzelli (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 0:31
5. Yon Bru (Sp), Kaiku, at 0:31
6. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis, at 0:31
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:31
8. Unai Yus (Sp), Bouygues Telecom, at 0:40
9. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), Cofidis, at 0:40
10. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:43
11. Igor Astarloa (Sp),Barloworld-Valsir, at 0:43
12. Chris Horner (USA), Saunier Duval, at 0:43
13. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, at 0:43
14. Paolo Valoti (I), Domina Vacanze, at 0:43
15. Xabier Zandio (Sp), Illes Balears, at 0:43
16. Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, at 0:43
17. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 0:43
18. Carlos Sastre (Sp),CSC, at 0:43
19. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, at 0:43
20. Luis Perez (Sp), Cofidis, at 0:43
21. Jose Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 0:43
22. Luca Solari (I), Domina Vacanze, at 0:43
23. Moises Dueñas (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 0:43
24. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Illes Balears, at 0:43
25. Aitor Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:43
26. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Gerolsteiner, at 1:06
27. Francisco Javier Vila (Sp), Lampre-Caffita, at 2:39
28. Steffen Wesemann (G), T-Mobile, at 2:39
29. Michele Scarponi (I), Liberty Seguros, at 2:39
30. Tom Danielson (USA), Discovery, at 2:39
31. Sébastien Joly (F), Credit Agricole, at 3:44
32. Giovanni Visconti (I), Domina Vacanze, at 3:55
33. Marcus Zberg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 3:55
34. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), Rabobank, at 3:55
35. Marco Serpellini (I), Gerolsteiner, at 3:55
36. Björn Leukemans (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:55
37. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery, at 3:55
38. Jorge Garcia (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 3:55
39. Andrea Moletta (I), Gerolsteiner, at 3:55
40. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), Liberty Seguros, at 3:55
41. Manuele Mori (I), Saunier Duval, at 3:55
42. José Luis Arrieta (Sp), Illes Balears, at 3:55
43. Christian Vande Velde (USA),CSC, at 3:55
44. Philippe Gilbert (B), Française Des Jeux, at 3:55
45. Gorazd Stangelj (Slo), Lampre-Caffita, at 3:55
46. Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz), Credit Agricole, at 3:55
47. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Française Des Jeux, at 3:55
48. Didier Rous (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 3:55
49. Anthony Geslin (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 3:55
50. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:55
51. Luca Celli (I),Barloworld-Valsir, at 3:55
52. Luis Pasamontes (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 3:55
53. Filippo Pozzato (I), Quick Step, at 3:55
54. Mirko Celestino (I), Domina Vacanze, at 3:55
55. Eric Leblacher (F), Credit Agricole, at 3:55
56. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Illes Balears, at 3:55
57. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, at 3:55
58. Israel Nunez (Sp), Kaiku, at 3:55
59. Koos Moerenhout (Ned), Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:55
60. Tadej Valjavec (Slo), Phonak, at 3:55
61. Joseba Albizu (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 3:55
62. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), T-Mobile, at 3:55
63. Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:55
64. Luis Perez (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 3:55
65. Michael Barry (Can), Discovery, at 3:55
66. Gorka Gonzalez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 3:55
67. Bingen Fernandez (Sp), Cofidis, at 3:55
68. Volodymir Gustov (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, at 3:55
69. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 3:55
70. Javier Pascual Llorente (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 3:55
71. Manuel Calvente (Sp),CSC, at 3:55
72. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), Quick Step, at 3:55
73. Andrea Noe (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:55
74. Rafael Casero (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 3:55
75. Thomas Dekker (Ned), Rabobank, at 3:55
76. Oscar Pereiro (Sp), Phonak, at 3:55
77. Mauricio Ardila (Col), Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:55
78. José Antonio Pecharroman (Sp), Quick Step, at 3:55
79. Christophe Moreau (F), Credit Agricole, at 3:55
80. Daniel Atienza (Sp), Cofidis, at 3:55
81. Xavier Florencio (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 3:55
82. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 3:55
83. David Herrero (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 3:55
84. Peter Luttenberger (A),CSC, at 3:55
85. David Latasa (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 3:55
86. Massimo Giunti (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 3:55
87. Ronny Scholz (G), Gerolsteiner, at 3:55
88. Francisco Cabello (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 3:55
89. Angel Luis Casero (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 3:55
90. Ezequiel Mosquera (Sp), Kaiku, at 3:55
91. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, at 3:55
92. Alessandro Spezialetti (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 3:55
93. Axel Merckx (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:55
94. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:55
95. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 3:55
96. Ruben Lobato (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 3:55
97. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Credit Agricole, at 3:55
98. Cristian Moreni (I), Quick Step, at 3:55
99. Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile, at 3:55
100. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr), Domina Vacanze, at 3:55
101. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Discovery, at 3:55
102. Giuliano Figueras (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 4:05
103. Salvatore Commesso (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 4:05
104. Karsten Kroon (Ned), Rabobank, at 6:08
105. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), T-Mobile, at 8:06
106. Pierrick Fedrigo (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 8:06
107. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Cofidis, at 8:34
108. Victor Hugo Peña (Col), Phonak, at 11:08
109. Oscar Laguna (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 11:08
110. Imanol Erviti (Sp), Illes Balears, at 11:08
111. Iker Leonet (Sp), Illes Balears, at 11:08
112. Nicki Sorensen (Dk),CSC, at 11:08
113. Mauro Facci (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 11:08
114. Sandy Casar (F), Française Des Jeux, at 11:08
115. Cyrille Monnerais (F), Française Des Jeux, at 11:08
116. Manuel Lloret (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 11:08
117. José Luis Martinez (Sp), Comunidad Valenciana, at 11:08
118. Charles Wegelius (GBr), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 11:08
119. David De La Fuente (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 11:08
120. Andrea Tonti (I), Lampre-Caffita, at 11:08
121. Paolo Longo (I),Barloworld-Valsir, at 11:08
122. Stefano Cavallari (I),Barloworld-Valsir, at 11:08
123. Javier Ramirez (Sp), Liberty Seguros, at 11:08
124. Allan Davis (Aus), Liberty Seguros, at 11:08
125. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz), Cofidis, at 11:08
126. Inaki Isasi (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 11:08
127. Anthony Charteau (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 11:08
128. Francisco José Ventoso (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 11:15
129. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Sp), Phonak , at 11:15
130. Roberto Laiseka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 11:15
131. David Etxebarria (Sp), Liberty Seguros, at 11:15
132. Franck Renier (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 12:23
133. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto, at 12:23
134. Steve Zampieri (Swi), Phonak, at 12:23
135. Benoît Poilvet (F), Credit Agricole, at 12:23
136. Stijn Devolder (B), Discovery 12:23
137. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole, at 12:23
138. Thomas Voeckler (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 12:23
139. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Credit Agricole, at 12:23
140. Walter Beneteau (F), Bouygues Telecom, at 12:23
141. Iban Mayoz (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, at 15:37
142. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Rabobank, at 16:04
143. Ruben Oarbeascoa (Sp), Kaiku, at 16:04
144. Ricardo Serrano (Sp), Kaiku, at 16:04
145. Matthias Kessler (G), T-Mobile, at 16:04
146. Antonio Tauler (Sp), Illes Balears, at 16:04
147. Kjell Carlström (Fin), Liquigas-Bianchi, at 16:04
148. Mickael Delage (F), Française Des Jeux, at 16:04
149. Ruslan Ivanov (Mda), Domina Vacanze, at 16:04