Italy?s Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) turned around a disastrous 2007 season by winning the Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday.
Bertagnolli got away with Spain?s Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step) 10km from the finish after a very tactical race. The chasers failed to get organised behind and so the two stayed clean and contested the sprint. Garate went first and lead out round the last corner but Bertagnolli got a huge gear turning and no problem powering past to win his first race of 2007.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) was the big favourite to win the Clasica but made miss-timed all his efforts and had to be satisfied with winning he sprint for third place, 18 seconds behind Bertagnolli. Tour of Flanders winner Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) was fourth.
Bertagnolli has missed most of the season because of a minor heart problem. He was unable to obtain his licence because of the problem but was eventually diagnosed with a virus that affected his heart beat. He only recently began racing again but has quickly shown he is back to his best.
?I?m really happy to have won. I?ve had a difficult year but now I?m back and it feels great to have won,? he said.
?We attacked at the fight moment, with 10km, and the others didn?t chase. I knew Garate was fast in the sprint but he went too early and I didn?t have a problem getting past him.?
?Hopefully I can make up for the time I?ve missed in the second half of the season. I hope I can have a great Vuelta.?
CLASSICA SAN SEBASTIAN: RESULTS
1 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Liquigas
2 Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Quick Step at same time
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 18secs
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step
6 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
8 Iñigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Spa) Euskaltel
9 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
10 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step all at same time