Clásica reignites racing after Tour
It’s time for cycling to forget the Tour de France and all of its scandals as the international racing calendar kicks back into gear Saturday with the 27th Clásica San Sebastián in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country… at least for one day. Perhaps there couldn’t be a better tonic for cycling’s woes than a good old-fashioned race and the always-exciting Clásica could just be the ticket. With its spectacular backdrop – San Sebastián is easily one of Europe’s most glamorous cities – coupled with the passion that comes from the fiery Basque fans, the Clásica could help cycling fans remember
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
By Andrew Hood
It’s time for cycling to forget the Tour de France and all of its scandals as the international racing calendar kicks back into gear Saturday with the 27th Clásica San Sebastián in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country… at least for one day.
Perhaps there couldn’t be a better tonic for cycling’s woes than a good old-fashioned race and the always-exciting Clásica could just be the ticket.
With its spectacular backdrop – San Sebastián is easily one of Europe’s most glamorous cities – coupled with the passion that comes from the fiery Basque fans, the Clásica could help cycling fans remember what they love about the sport.
There are no major changes in the familiar 225km course that laces over six steep climbs up the lush Basque Country hills, including the always-decisive Cat. 1 Jaizkibel and the final Cat. 3 Gurutze climbs that light up the action in the final 25km.
The key shift this year is a leap forward in the calendar, with the Clásica slotting in a week earlier than usual on the weekend after the Sunday conclusion of the Tour in Paris. Whether that helps or hurts the race action remains to be seen.
Riders coming out of the Tour with strong form will have an advantage on the demanding route that’s not your typical one-day race. The Jaizkibel inevitably splits up the peloton, but an organized chase can bring back escapees to set up a relatively large bunch sprint.
Lastyear’s surprise winner, Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom), who uncorked a long sprint at 600 meters to hold off an elite group of sprinters, will be back to defend his title.
What’s sure, there’s no lack of star-power for Spain’s most important one-day race.
Five of the Tour’s top 10 will be at the start line on San Sebastián’s posh Boulevard, including Carlos Sastre (CSC), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel). Those riders will race the Clásica before taking a break ahead of the Vuelta a España or the road world championships in Germany at the end of September.
ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) skipped the Tour and will try to widen his lead on the season-long series as he regains form ahead of the world’s.
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) surged into second in the ProTour standings, but will not be racing the Spanish one-day classic, opening the door for Di Luca to tighten his grip on the series lead.
The Giro d’Italia champion retained the overall lead with 207 points while Contador bounced into second overall with 191 points. Di Luca won the inaugural ProTour title in 2005 and would love nothing more than to win it for a second time in three years.
World champion Paolo Bettini will give the Clásica a miss after suffering from tendonitis in his left knee, his QuickStep-Innergetic team confirmed Thursday. Bettini also skipped the Tour of the Wallonne last week for the same reason.
Bettini, a winner of the 2003 Clásica, will be taking a forced rest but hopes to be able to race at the Tour of Germany later this month.
Other big names expected to start include Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel).
Several North Americans will line up, including George Hincapie and Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel), Bobby Julich and Christian Vande Velde (CSC) and Michael Barry (T-Mobile).
All the ProTour teams will line up, including the much-maligned Unibet.com but Astana will not, with the Swiss formation deciding to take a month’s hiatus from racing following the scandalous departure of team captain Alexandre Vinokourov for testing positive for blood doping.
Three Spanish continental teams – Karpin-Galicia, Fuerteventura and Relax-Gam – will bring motivated squads to race in one of their chances to go head-to-head with ProTour talent.
Results – 2006 Clásica San Sebastián
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
Full 2006 Results
1981 – Marino Lejarreta (Sp), Teka
1982 – Marino Lejarreta (Sp), Teka
1983 – Claude Criquielion (B), Splendor
1984 – Niki Rüttimann (Swi), La Vie Claire
1985 – Adri van der Poel (Nl), Kwantum
1986 – Inaki Gaston (Sp), Kas
1987 – Marino Lejarreta (Sp), Caja Rural
1988 – Gert-Jan Theunisse (Nl), PDM
1989 – Gerhard Zadrobilek (A), 7-Eleven
1990 – Miguel Indurain (Sp), Banesto
1991 – Gianni Bugno (I), Gatorade
1992 – Raul Alcala (Mex), PDM
1993 – Claudio Chiappucc (I), Carrera
1994 – Armand de Las Cuevas (F), Castorama
1995 – Lance Armstrong (USA), Motorola
1996 – Udo Bölts (G), Team Telekom
1997 – Davide Rebellin (I), Françaisedes Jeux
1998 – Francesco Casagrande (I), Cofidis
1999 – Francesco Casagrande (I), Vini Caldirola
2000 – Erik Dekker (Nl), Rabobank
2001 – Laurent Jalabert (F), Team CSC
2002 – Laurent Jalabert (F), Team CSC
2003 – Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Davitamon
2004 – Miguel Ángel Martín Perdiguero (Sp),Saunier Duval-Prodir
2005 – Constantino Zaballa (Sp), Saunier Duval-Prodir
2006 – Xavier Florencio (Sp), Bouygues Télécom