The Tour de France may be over, but the cycling season continues this weekend with the San Sebastian classic on Saturday, Spain’s most important one-day race.
The parcours has generally suited climbers in the past, with the lengthy category one Alto de Jaizkibel aiding riders who can sustain their efforts uphill, and hindering those who favour the short, steep accents that characterise most spring classics. The climb is tackled twice, with the final ascent positioned around 30 kilometres from the finish and often used as a launch-pad for the winning move.
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This year, the San Sebastian has been brought forward from its usual mid-August slot to Saturday July 27, and as such it has attracted several big names fresh from having completed the Tour de France, including podium finishers Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez, and four others from the top 10, and stage winning yellow jersey-wearers Jan Bakelants and Simon Gerrans.
There’s British interest in the shape of Sky’s young duo of Jonathan Tiernan-Locke and Josh Edmondson. Both impressed at last year’s Tour of Britain, which Tiernan-Locke won overall and where Edmondson’s attacking racing earned him a contract at Sky. Both will hope to put a strong performance in on Saturday, be it for themselves or for the services of team leader Richie Porte.
San Sebastian 2013
Event category: UCI WorldTour
Start: San Sebastian, Spain
Finish: San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian 2013: The Contenders
Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
As Spain’s current best classics rider, it is surprising that Rogriquez has never won San Sebastian. Previous editions have witnessed him finishing second, fifth and eighth, but this year he will be hopeful of claiming top stop on the podium. If he can maintain the peak form he reached in the final week of the Tour, he will be favourite for the win.
Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
Gerrans has become more and more of a household name in recent years, with his stint in yellow during the first week at the Tour brining him yet wider fame. If he can remain in the lead group over the climbs, and if co climber makes a successful attack, then his superior sprint could see him go one better than the second place he registered last year.
Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
Though Tour revelation Nairo Quintana will ride, Movistar have named Alejandro Valverde as their leader. The Spaniard possess the right combination of climbing and sprinting talents to win, and was victorious here back in 2008; however, he’ll have to ride more proactively than he has in his recent record of near misses.
Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC (and Greg Van Avermaet)
Despite the world champion’s disappointing season, in which he has yet to claim a single victory, it would still take a brave person to write off Philippe Gilbert. His BMC team are in desperate need of a win following a poor Tour de France, and should the world champion come up short again, they might let Greg Van Avermaet off the leash instead.
Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
Unlike the other favourites, Sanchez did not ride the Tour and could therefore find himself with fresher legs. However, having only won a single race all year there ia questionmark surrounding his form. Saturday’s race could be a good indication as to whether age has caught up with the 35-year old.
Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale
Moser is an outside bet for the win, but the stars could just align in favour of the young Italian. His brilliant ride on the Tour’s Alpe d’Huez stage not only proves his climbing ability, but also that his form was improving in the final week. Possessing a quick sprint, and having already won the Tour of Poland and the Strade Bianche, he’s got the credentials to pull another big win off.
San Sebastian 2013: TV Coverage
July 27 – Live: British Eurosport, 14.45-16.15
July 27 – Highlights: British Eurosport, 19.00-200
July 28 – Highlights: British Eurosport, 07.30-08.30
July 28 – Highlights: British Eurosport 2, 05.00-06.30
Luis Leon Sanchez wins in 2012
San Sebastian: Recent Winners
2012 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa)
2011 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
2010 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa)
2009 Carlos Barredo (Spa)
2008 Alejandro Valverde (Spa)
2007 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita)
2006 Xavier Florencio (Spa)
2005 Constantino Zaballa (Spa)
2004 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa)
2003 Pablo Bettini (Ita)
San Sebastian: Last year’s top ten (2012)
1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank in 5-55-35
2. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 7 secs
3. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Sharp
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing
7. Mads Christensen (Den)Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
9. Xavier Florencio (Spa) Katusha
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-ISD all same time