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25th Clasica San Sebastian - ProT

Spain, August 13, 2005

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Once again, Saunier Duval takes the Txapela

By Jeff Jones

Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Saunier Duval teammates Constantino Zaballa and Joaquin Rodriguez outgunned a star-studded field to give their team its second Clasica San Sebastian victory in a row. Zaballa soloed off the front of a seven-man lead group with under 3 km to go to win by half a minute over his delighted teammate Rodriguez, who beat Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre) and Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) across the line. It was a result that even bettered Saunier Duval's win last year, when Miguel Martin Perdiguero beat a group of six others, and Zaballa finished ninth.

"It's very difficult for a rider like me to win this race," Zaballa explained after the finish. "But I had a bit of luck and went at the right time. I knew I had to gamble on making one big attack, and making it count. The tactic worked better than I could have thought."

The 27 year old who turned pro with Kelme in 2001 now has five wins to his credit, including a stage in the 2004 Vuelta a España, but this is his biggest success so far. He finished third overall in Paris-Nice this year and is also a specialist in winning classification jerseys, and has three mountains jerseys, one metas volantes, and one special sprints competition to his credit.

In the battle for ProTour points, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner, 13th) came close, but not quite close enough to finishing in the top 10, thereby missing out on any points. A sick ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca finished 94th today, but didn't lose any ground to Rebellin or any of the others.

How it unfolded

The 188-strong peloton started in San Sebastian at 11:30 in dry, but fairly cool conditions, with temperatures in the low 20s - a contrast to the usual searing August heat that this race is known for. The wind was blowing at 10 km/h from the NNE, which would be behind the riders for the first part of the race and also for the final. Early aggressors included Óscar Laguna (Relax- Fuenlabrada), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Benoît Poilvet (C.A.), Marco Serpellini (Gerolsteiner), Imanol Erviti (Illes Balears), Franck Renier (Telecom) and Adrian Palomares (Kaiku), but the first serious break of the day was made on the Alto de Garate (km 29) when eight riders attacked and got a gap.

The leaders represented eight teams, with Christophe Moreau (CA), Michael Barry (Discovery), Patxi Vila (Lampre), Ruban Lobato (Saunier Duval), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) and Antonio Tauler (Illes Balears) all in front. By the Cat. 2 Alto de Azkarate (59 km), the group of had 4'30, and increased it to a maximum of 6'05 after 90 km, but then the peloton started to clamp down as the other teams didn't want to risk letting such a large break stay out in front.

With 45 km covered in the first hour and an average speed of 43.8 km/h after two hours, the race was ahead of schedule. But as the riders turned back north to San Sebastian, the headwind started to slow them down and the break found it tough going. Phonak, Gerolsteiner, Barloworld-Valsir and Quick Step were doing most of the chasing, and had pegged the gap back to 3'35 with 70 km to go, knocking a couple more minutes off that over the next 25 km. As usual, the idea was to reel everyone in before the Jaizkibel, an 8 km climb averaging 5.73 percent that is usually decisive in this race.

Barloworld and Davitamon-Lotto performed the coupe de grace, and the eight leaders hit the Jaizkibel at 39 km to go with a gap of less than half a minute. All focus was on the peloton now, where Stangelj (Lampre) made the first move, followed by Moncoutié (Cofidis). They didn't survive too long, as Valjavec decided to stir things up for his Phonak team. Moreau and Vila were the last survivors of the break, which only made it up the first couple of kilometres of the Jaizkibel. Finally it was Carlos Sastre (CSC) who really split the peloton, before Denis Menchov (Rabobank) countered with a strong move.

From then on it was Menchov all the way to the top, while Sastre was caught by Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Davide Rebellin, Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) and Luis Perez (Cofidis). Another group of 20 was 25 seconds back, with Paco Mancebo at the helm trying to close the gap before the summit. Menchov eased up a little bit and was caught at the top of the Jaizkibel with 31 km to go, to form a group of 10 in front.

The Mancebo group, which also had Zaballa, Horner (Saunier), Astarloa (Barloworld), and Mazzoleni (Lampre) in it, was able to come back on the descent to form a mini-bunch of 30. Tour de Suisse winner Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel) chased hard to get them, and just made contact at the bottom. The rest, including ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca and HEW Cyclassics winner Pippo Pozzato, were nowhere in sight.

The leaders sped through Hondarribia and Saunier went on the offensive with Chris Horner making a solo attack, then getting away with Leipheimer, Solari (Domina Vacanze), and Zandio (Illes Balears) with 17 km to go. But on the last climb of the day, the Alto de Gurutze, Rebellin came back with most of the rest of the big group, and the attacks started anew. Over the top of the climb, Rebellin got clear with Rodriguez, Menchov and Garzelli, but that was chased down.

Finally, after the descent of the Gurutze, a group of seven riders got away and that was the good move: Garzelli was there again, along with Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Tino Zaballa, Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier), Yon Bru (Kaiku), David Moncoutié (Cofidis) and Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre). They quickly got 20 seconds on the big group behind as the Leipheimer/Rebellin/Menchov-led chase ran out of allies and horsepower.

Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

In front, Saunier had the numbers and the motivation to win on home soil, and with under 3 km to go, Tino Zaballa attacked and got that all-important gap. As soon as Garzelli looked at the others to chase, it was all over, especially with Rodriguez there to mark any counter-jumps. Under the kilometre to go banner, and Zaballa had 15 seconds, driving it up to the finish with the wind at his back to celebrate his biggest career victory. To cap it off, Rodriguez led out the group sprint for second place, equally as delighted as his teammate in front. Mazzoleni led Garzelli in for third.

Thus, after Miguel Martin Perdiguero's victory here last year, Saunier Duval-Prodir bettered its performance with a strong display of teamwork coupled with plenty of aggression. Danilo Di Luca didn't have the legs and finished outside the ProTour points, but still leads the rankings by a comfortable margin over Armstrong, Vinokourov, and Julich. Rebellin didn't gain any more points today and is still in seventh overall, trailing his Italian rival by 83 points with just a handful of races to come.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 227 km

1 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir            5.24.18 (42.0 km/h)
2 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                 0.31
3 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                              
4 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                          
5 Yon Bru (Spa) Kaiku                                              
6 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone           
7 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
8 Unai Yus (Spa) Bouygues Telecom                              0.40
9 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone      
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      0.43
11 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Barloworld-Valsir                      
12 Christopher Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir                   
13 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                              
14 Paolo Valoti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                               
15 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne              
16 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                               
17 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                             
18 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                    
19 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                    
20 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone               
21 Jose Miguel Elias (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                       
22 Luca Solari (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                
23 Moises Dueñas (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                           
24 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne          
25 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
26 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                          1.06
27 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre-Caffita                  2.39
28 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                            
29 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team               
30 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          
31 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Credit Agricole                        3.44
32 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                      3.55
33 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                 
34 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Rabobank                                
35 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Gerolsteiner                             
36 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                           
37 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team        
38 Jorge Garcia (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                            
39 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner                               
40 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team             
41 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                         
42 José Luis Arrieta (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne          
43 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC                             
44 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux                       
45 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita                            
46 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Credit Agricole                          
47 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux                        
48 Didier Rous (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                              
49 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                           
50 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Liquigas-Bianchi                      
51 Luca Celli (Ita) Team Barloworld-Valsir                         
52 Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                         
53 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step                                
54 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                            
55 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Credit Agricole                            
56 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne              
57 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team               
58 Israel Nunez (Spa) Kaiku                                        
59 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto                           
60 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                     
61 Joseba Albizu (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                           
62 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team                              
63 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi                         
64 Luis Perez (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                              
65 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          
66 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
67 Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone         
68 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo                            
69 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             
70 Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana              
71 Manuel Calvente (Spa) Team CSC                                  
72 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step                            
73 Andrea Noe (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                               
74 Rafael Casero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                        
75 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                    
76 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                      
77 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Davitamon-Lotto                           
78 José Antonio Pecharroman (Spa) Quick Step                       
79 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                         
80 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone           
81 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                        
82 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana             
83 David Herrero (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                           
84 Peter Luttenberger (Aut) Team CSC                               
85 David Latasa (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                         
86 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              
87 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 
88 Francisco Cabello (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                    
89 Angel Luis Casero (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                    
90 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Kaiku                                   
91 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                         
92 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                     
93 Axel Merckx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                               
94 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                           
95 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                        
96 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                         
97 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole                         
98 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick Step                                
99 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team                            
100 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                            
101 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     
102 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                     4.05
103 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                        
104 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank                               6.08
105 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile Team                          8.06
106 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                        
107 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone    8.34
108 Victor Hugo Peña (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems             11.08
109 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                           
110 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne             
111 Iker Leonet (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne               
112 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC                                  
113 Mauro Facci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                
114 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux                           
115 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux                     
116 Manuel Lloret (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                       
117 José Luis Martinez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana                  
118 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas-Bianchi                        
119 David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                  
120 Andrea Tonti (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                              
121 Paolo Longo (Ita) Team Barloworld-Valsir                       
122 Stefano Cavallari (Ita) Team Barloworld-Valsir                 
123 Javier Ramirez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                
124 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   
125 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone         
126 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            
127 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                        
128 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir         11.15
129 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems    
130 Roberto Laiseka (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        
131 David Etxebarria (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team              
132 Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                      12.23
133 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                         
134 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                    
135 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole                           
136 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team        
137 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Credit Agricole                          
138 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                         
139 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Credit Agricole                      
140 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                         
141 Iban Mayoz (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                        15.37
142 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank                             16.04
143 Ruben Oarbeascoa (Spa) Kaiku                                   
144 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Kaiku                                    
145 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           
146 Antonio Tauler (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne            
147 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas-Bianchi                         
148 Mickael Delage (Fra) Française Des Jeux                        
149 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Domina Vacanze                             
Alto De Orio - Zudugarai - Cat. 3 
1 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                            3 pts
2 Joseba Albizu (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                         2
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Team Gerolsteiner                            1
Alto De Garate - Cat. 2 
1 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       6 pts
2 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          4
3 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    2
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                         1
Alto De Azkarate - Cat. 2 
1 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       6 pts
2 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    4
3 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          2
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                         1
Alto De Udana - Cat. 2 
1 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       6 pts
2 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          4
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                         2
4 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    1
Alto De Jaizkibel - Cat. 1
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                   10 pts
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Gerolsteiner                         8
3 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par telephone               6
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Team Gerolsteiner                         4
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto                             2
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                    1
Alto De Gurutze - Cat. 3 
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Team Gerolsteiner                         3 pts
2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                       2
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                  1
Mountains classification
1 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                        18 pts
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                   10
3 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team         10
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                              8
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                              7
6 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre-Caffita                      7
7 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone               6
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                         4
9 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                            3
10 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                        2
11 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                              2
12 Joseba Albizu (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          2
13 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                   1
14 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                   1
15 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                1
Metas volantes
1 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                            3 pts
2 Adrian Palomares (Spa) Kaiku                                    2
3 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Illes Balears - Caisse D'Epargne            1
1 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel                           3 pts
2 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       2
3 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    1
1 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel                           3 pts
2 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    2
3 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                       1
1 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                    3 pts
2 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears - Caisse D'Epargne            2
3 Yon Bru (Spa) Kaiku                                             1
1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                       3 pts
2 Yon Bru (Spa) Kaiku                                             2
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                  1
Metas volantes classification
1 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          6 pts
2 Francisco Javier Vila (Spa) Lampre-Caffita                      6
3 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                         3
4 Oscar Laguna (Spa) Relax Fuenlabrada                            3
5 Yon Bru (Spa) Kaiku                                             3
6 Ruben Lobato (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                         3
7 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne              2
8 Adrian Palomares (Spa) Kaiku                                    2
9 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                    1
10 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne             1
Teams classification
1 Saunier Duval-Prodir                                          15 pts
2 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                              35
3 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                             42
4 Lampre-Caffita                                                47
5 Domina Vacanze                                                68
6 Gerolsteiner                                                  72
7 Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                                81
8 Relax Fuenlabrada                                             82
9 Bouygues Telecom                                             105
10 Davitamon-Lotto                                             111
11 Liquigas-Bianchi                                            117
12 Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                                  126
13 Rabobank                                                    128
14 Team CSC                                                    132
15 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                          132
16 Credit Agricole                                             132
17 Kaiku                                                       153
18 Team Barloworld-Valsir                                      183
19 T-Mobile Team                                               189
20 Quick Step                                                  203
21 Française Des Jeux                                          205
22 Fassa Bortolo                                               223
23 Comunidad Valenciana                                        237
24 Phonak Hearing Systems                                      244

ProTour standings


1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                                184 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             139
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                             136
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                          130
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                          120
6 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              111
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                   101
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                       98
9 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                95
10 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                    94


1 Team CSC                                                             270 pts
2 Phonak Hearing Systems                                               269
3 Rabobank                                                             264
4 Davitamon-Lotto                                                      263
5 Saunier Duval - Prodir                                               237
6 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                                         219
7 Credit Agricole                                                      216
8 T-Mobile Team                                                        212
9 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                   212
10 Fassa Bortolo                                                       203

1 Italy                                                                574 pts
2 United States Of America                                             468
3 Spain                                                                370
4 Germany                                                              284
5 Belgium                                                              251
6 Australia                                                            236
7 Netherlands                                                          183
8 Kazakhstan                                                           143
9 France                                                               132
10 Switzerland                                                         1088