Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) won the 2016 edition of the Clasica San Sebastian with an unanswerable attack over the final climb of the day.
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For Mollema, the victory represents a characterful comeback after he lost a place on the Tour de France podium with just three stages remaining.
Like most of the favourites, Mollema waited for the final climb – the Bordako Tontorra – to make him move.
A new addition to this year’s race, there was a clamour among the teams to reach the narrow corner that instigated the climbing at the front of the peloton, with Orica-BikeExchange coming out on top.
Their leader, Simon Yates, attacked with Cannondale-Drapac’s Rigoberto Uran, but it was Rodriguez who managed to open up a significant gap. He too was caught at the top, however, by a chasing group of Mollema, Valverde and Gallopin.
Once the catch had been made Mollema flew off the front, managing to retain a gap that was big enough by the finish line for him to sit up and celebrate his victory.
Bauke Mollema’s toughest day
Valverde lost out in the sprint for second behind Gallopin, while Rodriguez rolled in a few seconds behind, waving farewell to the crowd on his last ever San Sebastian.
Simon Yates eventually finished seventh in the next group on the road. His brother and defending champion Adam, on the other hand, did not contest the finale, and was seen riding at the back of the peloton earlier on.
In general the action was subdued before the final climb, although there were a few eye-catching moves early on featuring Team Sky riders. Michal Kwiatkowski was joined by the likes of Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) in a move that briefly went away halfway into the race, and later a seven-man group led by Mikel Landa escaped on the final ascent of the Jaizkibel with 59km to go, before being swiftly wallowed up on subsequent descent.
These moves meant that the break of the day (consisting of Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Drapac), Jaime Rosón (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) Loic Chetout (Cofidis) and Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling)) were unable to gain much of an advantage over the bunch.
Their lead peaked at 6 and a half minutes, and they were caught for good when swallowed up by first Landa’s chasing group and then the rest of the peloton.
The racing between this catch and the run-in to the final climb was uneventful, with the only action being an acceleration from Cannondale-Drapac at the front of the bunch on the penultimate climb, and later a brief attack from Igor Anton (Dimension Data).
Classica San Sebastian, 220.2km
1. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, 5-31-00
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 17s
3. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, st
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, at 22s
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, at 34s
6. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-Quick Step, st
7. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange, st
8. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac, st
9. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Team Sky, st
10. Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling, at 37s