Road

Basque Country readies for Clasica San Sebastian

The Clasica San Sebastian always opens the summer fiesta season of thisposh seaside resort in Spain's Basque Country. The Basques are crazy forcycling and they love a good party and the two passions mix together likea good paella.With four-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong takingthe start against rival Joseba Beloki and Paolo Bettini hopingto bounce ahead of Johan Museeuw in the overall World Cup standings,the 2002 Clasica has the makings of a classic.Armstrong is back in Europe after lighting up the streets of New YorkCity last weekend. The Texan has a home in Girona on the other

By Andrew Hood

The Clasica San Sebastian always opens the summer fiesta season of thisposh seaside resort in Spain’s Basque Country. The Basques are crazy forcycling and they love a good party and the two passions mix together likea good paella.With four-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong takingthe start against rival Joseba Beloki and Paolo Bettini hopingto bounce ahead of Johan Museeuw in the overall World Cup standings,the 2002 Clasica has the makings of a classic.Armstrong is back in Europe after lighting up the streets of New YorkCity last weekend. The Texan has a home in Girona on the other side ofSpain and has a special affection for the Classica. This race was one ofhis first as a professional in 1992 and he finished last. He vowed to comeback and win, which he did in 1995.According to U.S. Postal Service sport director Dirk Demol, Armstrongarrived in San Sebastian on Friday.“He looks fresh,” Demol said. “After flying back and forth from Europeand riding in several criteriums, he looks good.”Armstrong comes with a strong team, led by George Hincapie, nowthird overall in the World Cup standings. Joining Armstrong and Hincapieare Michael Barry, Antonio Cruz, Floyd Landis, Viatcheslav Ekimov, ChannMcRae and Matthew White.Demol said Hincapie will be driving as hard as he can because he hasan outside shot at the overall World Cup title. Hincapie’s scored pointsin five of the six World Cups he’s raced this year and is fresh off a fifth-placeat HEW Cyclassics last week in Germany. He now has 124 points to Museeuw’s270.“George is very strong right now and he can do well here and at Zürich.He can do better here than he did at HEW,” Demol said. “He will race hereand at Zurich and see how things stand.”Demol confirmed reports that the GP Zürich next week will takeplace. Teams were threatening to boycott the eighth stop of the World Cupbecause prize money from last year still had not been paid. New race organizerspromised to pay the teams over the next two years and diffused the problem.Other Americans making the start are Bobby Julich and Kevin Livingston,both of Telekom. Levi Leipheimer will race with Rabobank and FredRodriguez with Domo.This year’s course is the same as in recent years: 227 kilometers throughthe heart of Basque Country’s Guipuzcoa region. The start and finish ison The Boulevard in downtown San Sebastian, a rowdy city packed with tapasbars and restaurants.The course includes six climbs, two three-category climb and three second-categoryclimbs and the category-one Alto de Jaizkibel, at about 20 miles from thefinish line.The local press is hyping a showdown between Armstrong and Beloki. TheONCE rider is from nearby Vitoria and wants to have a good race in frontof the passionate Basque fans, but he balks at talk of a rematch.“This is a one-day race and there are other types of riders who dominatethese races,” Beloki said this week. “I am feeling fresh after the Tourde France. I raced less this season and I notice it in my legs. It willall come down to the Jaizkibel.”The real showdown will be between Bettini and Museeuw. The veteran Belgianwas the surprise winner last week at the HEW Cyclassics and holds a 96-pointlead over the Italian.The Clasica’s parcours favor Bettini (Mapei), a stronger climber thanMuseeuw (Domo). With 100 points going to the winner, Bettini is hopingfor a dramatic win and a big bounce in the standings.But Bettini has more than Museeuw to worry about. A bevy of Italianscome to the Clasica in top form, including Danilo Di Luca (Saeco)and former winners David Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and FrancescoCasagrande (Fassa Bortolo). Last year’s winner, Laurent Jalabert(CSC-Tiscali),will be looking for a big win after several close calls in the Tour deFrance.“I haven’t felt this good all season,” said Rebellin, a winner at theGP Camaiore in Italy this week. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’tfeel so well. I finished third at HEW and that gave me confidence. TheClasica is always a good race for me. I want to take revenge to make upfor my bad season.”Casagrande, meanwhile, is a two-time winner at the Clasica and has equalmotivation to make up for a disappointing season. He was booted out ofthe Giro d’Italia after race judges said he ran Colombian Fredy Gonzalezinto the fences and was later left off his Fassa Bortolo Tour de Franceteam.“It’s a race I like a lot and now I am feeling good. I always have goodform in August,” said Casagrande, who will race in the Vuelta a Espanain September. “I arrive in good form and I am thinking about the Vuelta,but without forgetting about August and this race.”It was raining hard Friday afternoon, putting a damper on the festivities.The local summer fiesta, Semana Grande, begins Sunday and the Basques wantthe fireworks to start on the road.


Classica San Sebastian startlistCSC – TISCALI
1. Jalabert, Laurent
2. Sastre, Carlos
3. Rasmussen, Michael
4. Sorensen, Nicki
5. Blaudzun, Michael
6. Cerezo, Francisco
7. Calvente, Manuel
8. García, MarcelinoFassa Bortolo
11. Casagrande, Francesco
12. Belli, Wladimir
13. Bartoli, Michele
14. Basso, Ivan
15. Montgomery, Sven
16. Stangelj, Gorazd
17. Valjavec, Tadej
18. Velo, MarcoTEAM TELEKOM
21. Guerini, Giuseppe
22. Heppner, Jens
23. Julich, Robert
24. Livingstone, Kevin
25. Bölts, Udo
26. Kopp, David
27. Schumacher, Stefan
28. Yakovlev, SergueiRabobank
31. Dekker, Erik
32. Boogerd, Michael
33. De Groot, Bram
34. Leipheimer, Levi
35. Wauters, Marc
36. Emgels, Addy
37. Niermann, Grischa
38. Kroon, KarstenMapei-Quick Step
41. Freire, Oscar
42. Bettini, Paolo
43. Evans, Cadel
44. Horrillo, Pedro
45. Nardello, Daniele
46. Cioni, Dario David
47. Bramati, Davide
48. Cañada, DavidLotto-Adecco
51. Verbrugghe, Rick
52. Aerts, Mario
53. Van Petegen, Peter
54. Brand, Cristophe
55. Baguet, Serge
56. Van de Wouwer, Kurt
57. Mikhailov, Guennadi
58. Stremersch, TomiBanesto
61. Mancebo, Francisco
62. Osa, Unai
63. Flecha, Juan Antonio
64. Latasa, David
65. Pascual, Javier
66. Arrieta, José Luis
67. García, José Vicente
68. Gutierrez, IvánCofidis
71. Kiviliev, Andrei
72. Lelli, Massimiliano
73. Millar, David
74. Cuesta, Iñigo
75. Atienza, Daniel
76. Fernandez, Bingen
77. Mattan, Nico
78. Planckaert, JoONCE-Eroski
81. BelokiI, Joseba
82. Glez. Galdeano , Igor
83. Azevedo, José
84. Jaksche, Jorg
85. Nozal, Isidro
86. Zarrabeitia, Mikel
87. Serrano, Marcos
88. Pradera, MikelU.S. Postal Service
91. Armstrong, Lance
92. Heras, Roberto
93. Rubiera, José Luis
94. Hincapie, George
95. Landis, Floyd
96. Ekimov, Vjatceslav
97. McRae, William
98. Peña, Victor HugoDomo – Farm Frites
101. Musseuw, Johan
102. Merckx, Axel
103. Virenque, Richard
104. Bruylandts, Dave
105. Cassanni, Enrico
106. Kashechkin, Andrey
107. Konecny, Tomas
108. WadeckI, PiotrLampre – Daikin
111. Rumsas, Raimondas
112. Tonkov, Pavel
113. Garate, Juan Manuel
114. Cortinovis, Alessandro
115. Missaglia, Gabriele
116. Pinnotti, Marco
117. Serpellini, Marco
118. Spruch, ZbigniewKelme – Costa Blanca
121. Gonzalez, Aitor
122. Vicioso, Angel
123. Cabello, Francisco
124. Cuenca, Juan Miguel
125. Valverde, Alejandro
126. Julia, José Cayetano
127. Pascual, Javier
128. Manzano, JesusTacconi Sport – Emmegi
131. Frigo, Dario
132. Luttenberger, Peter
133. Borghi, Ruggero
134. Bortolami, Gianluca
135. Donati, Massimo
136. Gaynitdinov, Dmitri
137. Gili, Marco
138. Hauptman, AndrejEuskaltel Euskadi
141. Etxebarria, David
142. Laiseka, Roberto
143. Zubeldia, Haimar
144. Mayo, Iban
145. Martinez , Alberto
146. Etxebarria, Unai
147. López de Munain, Alberto
148. Sánchez, SamuelSaecco – Machini per cafe
151. Di Luca, Danilo
152. Simoni, Gilberto
153. Astarloa, Igor
154. Commesso, Salvatore
155. Celestino, Mirko
156. Galletti, Alessio
157. Glomser, Gerrit
158. Sacchi, FabioCredit Agricole
161. Moreau, Christophe
162. O´Grady, Stuart
163. Voigt, Jens
164. Hinault, Sébastien
165. Bessy, Fréderic
166. Hushovd, Thor
167. Labgella, Anthony
168. Morin, AnthonyAlesio
171. Gotti, Ivan
172. Dufaux, Laurent
173. Bertolini, Alessandro
174. Ivanov, Ruslan
175. Ferrara, Raffaele
176. Ferrigato, Andrea
177. Mhioljevic, Vladimir
178. Pellizotti, Franco