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Clasica San Sebastian - CDM

Spain, August 9, 2003

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Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 11:25 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

08:50 CEST    
Welcome to Cyclingnews coverage of the Clasica San Sebastian, the seventh round of the UCI Road World Cup. Today's race is one of the shortest World Cups, measuring just 227 km. However with six categorised climbs and very warm temperatures, it's not an easy prospect.

The action begins with the Alto De Orio (Cat. 3, km 19), followed by Alto De Garate (Cat 2, km 29), Alto De Azkarate (Cat. 2, km 59), Alto De Udana (Cat. 2, km 101.5), Alto De Jaizkibel (Cat. 1, km 195) and the Alto De Gurutze (Cat. 3, km 213.5).

The Jaizkibel is considered the key point in this race, at 8 kilometres long and an average gradient of 5.1 percent. Often the race splits open on this climb and a small break stays clear until the finish. Sometimes the peloton comes together for a bunch sprint, but it's not that common.

14:12 CEST    100 km/127 km to go
We pick up the action with around 100 kilometres covered in the race, which officially started at 11:41am after a 15 minute neutral section out of Donostia/San Sebastián. The temperatures were around 30 degrees celsius at the start, and have increased during the afternoon.

The attacks started almost from the beginning, and after 11 km, Jose Vicente García Acosta (iBanesto.com), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo), Nicolas Portal (Ag2r) had a minute's advantage on the peloton. The peloton allowed them to get well clear, and they built a maximum lead of 15'30 at the foot of the Alto De Azkarate (km 59). However since then there has been some chasing, and the gap has sunk to 12'47.

There's still a long way to go for this breakaway, and it's doubtful whether they'll hold out. Stranger things have happened though.

14:37 CEST    124 km/103 km to go
On the Alto De Udana (Cat. 2), the four leaders lost another chunk of time to the peloton, and the gap is now below the 10 minute mark as they descend.

14:52 CEST    137 km/90 km to go
Saeco and Fassa Bortolo are leading the chase in the peloton, but the four leaders are still holding 11 minutes advantage, having extended it again on the descent of the Udana. There are no categorised climbs until the Alto De Jaizkibel at km 195, although the parcours is up and down.

The average speed after three hours is 39.4 km/h for the four leaders.

15:25 CEST    153 km/74 km to go
The four leaders, García Acosta, Jaksche, Hoste and Portal are within 20 km from the foot of the Jaizkibel, with an ever diminishing advantage to the peloton. They attacked virtually from the start, and have been out on their own in the heat for 170 km now.

Jaksche is probably the best climber in the group, having finished 17th in the Tour de France. As his current team ONCE is finishing at the end of the season, he is on his way to Gerolsteiner next year.

15:44 CEST    165 km/62 km to go
The gap to the leaders has sunk to under 10 minutes now, and it is getting gradually lower. However, there will have to be some serious chasing on the Jaizkibel if these riders are to be caught.

15:48 CEST    168 km/59 km to go
In the break, Jaksche signals for his team car to get some more water - the conditions have been very warm all day, and the leaders are feeling the effects of their efforts.

15:52 CEST    170 km/57 km to go
Vicente Garcia Acosta has decided it's time to go, and attacks on a small climb (Alto De Gaintxurizketa). Portal sets off in pursuit, followed by Jaksche and Hoste.

Garcia Acosta has 0'15 gap to the three chasers at the top of the climb, and is intent on continuing his attack.

15:58 CEST    176 km/51 km to go
The peloton is now less than five minutes behind the leaders, with Cofidis getting involved in the chase.

In front, it's 'Cente Garcia Acosta riding strongly on his way to the Jaizkibel, chased by Jaksche, Hoste and Portal at 0'40.

16:02 CEST    178 km/49 km to go
Garcia Acosta nears the foot of the Jaizkibel with just over 4'00 on the peloton and 0'40 on the three chasers. Now it will get hard for him, with 8 kilometres of climbing ahead of him. The peloton is too close for comfort, and he'll be lucky to survive over the top.

Saeco and Cofidis are driving the chase behind.

16:07 CEST    180 km/47 km to go
Saeco set an infernal tempo for their top men Astarloa, Di Luca and Celestino. Rabobank is also at the front, for Boogerd.

Garcia Acosta is climbing solo now, and suffering. Jaksche, Hoste and Portal are content to stay together it seems, also suffering. The real pain is yet to come however.

16:14 CEST    185 km/42 km to go
Garcia Acosta has 1'42 on the three chasers now, and 3'34 to the peloton, who will certainly catch him on the Jaizkibel. The pace is very high in the bunch now, with Cofidis, Saeco and Rabobank driving it all the time.

16:17 CEST    187 km/40 km to go
Near the front of the bunch, we can see David Millar (Cofidis), Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), all being protected by their teams. The gap to Garcia Acosta is now down to 3'12, and falling rapidly.

16:22 CEST    
Garcia Acosta is enjoying the last metres flat before the Jaizkibel, where he will shortly find out how much it hurts. His gap is 2'40 to the peloton, which is just about to catch Jaksche, Hoste and Portal. They have been out in front all day, after attacking in the first kilometre.

16:23 CEST    188 km/39 km to go
Garcia Acosta has started the climb, with 2'20 to the peloton which sucks up the rest of the break just before the foot. Nice timing. The climb starts hard (8.2 percent) then gradually gets easier.

A Phonak rider starts the attacks in the peloton, and it's strung out completely.

16:25 CEST    189 km/38 km to go
Garcia Acosta has his head down, and is not really enjoying this climb. His lead is now under 2 minutes, as Bettini and Paolini get to the front of the peloton.

16:28 CEST    190 km/37 km to go
Richard Virenque is on the front of the peloton, with Paolo Bettini right on his wheel. Casagrande, Boogerd, Rasmussen and Valoti are all there too.

Bettini attacks, and immediately there is a reaction from Casagrande and Valoti.

16:31 CEST    191 km/36 km to go
The group is down to 20 riders as Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze) increases his lead over the bunch to 5 seconds. Vicente Acosta is caught.

16:33 CEST    
The peloton is more or less back together, with some 15 riders left. Angel Casero (Bianchi) is on the back, with Bettini, Casagrande, Dufaux, Luis Perez, Boogerd, Rasmussen, Rebellin, Gerrikagoita and Perdiguero all there.

16:36 CEST    192 km/35 km to go
It looks as though Van Petegem is well off the back, with a large group of riders about 20 seconds behind the leading 15.

Bettini lifts the pace again in front, reducing the group even further to 10 riders. Rebellin is there, as is Basso, Rasmussen, Boogerd, Noe, Di Luca, Gerrikagoitia, Luis Perez, Casagrande.

16:40 CEST    194 km/33 km to go
Bettini continues to drive the 10 man group, as Van Petegem is reported at 55" down. The World Cup leader will need a lot of help to get back on.

16:43 CEST    195 km/32 km to go
Going over the top of the climb, we have a group of 10 riders, with Paolo Bettini (QuickStep), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), Rasmussen, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), Gorka Gerrikagoitia (Euskaltel), Luis Perez (Cofidis), Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), Andrea Noe (Alessio).

Laurent Dufaux is next over in a small group at 40".

16:46 CEST    197 km/30 km to go
Michael Boogerd loses it on the descent, and comes off the side of the road. He is unhurt, but he'll have to chase hard.

Andrea Noe sits at the back of the group.

16:50 CEST    202 km/25 km to go
25 km to go, and the 9 leaders (with Boogerd not on yet) are on the descent of the Jaizkibel, on their way back to San Sebastian. There is a group chasing them with Dufaux and Perdiguero in it, about 40 seconds behind.

Casagrande attacks.

16:54 CEST    207 km/20 km to go
Casagrande's attack doesn't last long, as they reach the foot of the descent. There is now a lot of drinking going on, as this is the last chance to get bottles before the finish.

The leaders have lost their momentum, and a group with Totschnig, Casero, David Canada is getting back on.

16:57 CEST    210 km/17 km to go
Casagrande attacks near the foot of the Alto De Gurutze, the last climb of the day. Bettini is right on his wheel, and goes past the Lampre rider with Basso. Casagrande leads the rest of the group a couple of metres behind. He gets to the front, does a big turn and puts his arm up. Basso follows suit. It's not the best way to organise a break away but it's working, as the next group is reported at 1'07.

Michael Boogerd has rejoined the front, and there are now 10 men.

17:01 CEST    211 km/16 km to go
The peloton is closing the gap to the leaders, who aren't interested in working much. They hit the Alto De Gurutze with 55" on the bunch. Bettini attacks again, and goes hard.

Ivan Basso chases, and closes the gap. This could be the winning move... Casagrande tries to bridge up to them.

Garzelli is leading the peloton a minute behind.

17:03 CEST    212 km/15 km to go
Bettini and Basso have a handy lead to Francesco Casagrande on the Alto de Gurutze, and Bettini is doing most of the work.

17:06 CEST    214 km/13 km to go
The two leaders cross the top of the climb with 11 seconds to Casagrande, then Noe and Di Luca another 5 seconds behind. It looks like a big Italian show in San Sebastian.

Garzelli has caught Totschnig's little group, but the peloton is right there. Over the top of the climb the gap is 1'25.

17:07 CEST    216 km/11 km to go
Basso is contributing to the workload, but Bettini is the driving force of this break, and should be able to win his second World Cup in a row. Van Petegem's World Cup jersey is definitely history.

17:09 CEST    217 km/10 km to go
Bettini and Basso pass under the 10 km to go sign, still working well together. Basso is strong, but Bettini is much stronger and is taking very long turns.

Casagrande is now with Noe and Di Luca, chasing 20 seconds behind Bettini and Basso.

Boogerd, Rasmussen, Rebellin and Gerrikagoitia are another handful of seconds behind Casagrande's group. Luis Perez is off the back of them.

17:14 CEST    221 km/6 km to go
Basso and Bettini continue their effort in front, with 6 km to go to the finish. They are on one of the main roads leading into San Sebastian, and the speed is very high. Bettini looks around to see where the chasers are. They're close at 18 seconds, but not close enough.

17:15 CEST    222 km/5 km to go
Bettini is very nervous, as he knows he doesn't have many seconds to play with. He is by far the better sprinter, and has to hope that Basso will be interested in staying clear.

The gap to the chasers is still 20 seconds, and they're not coming back. Boogerd's group could well catch Casagrande, Noe and Di Luca.

17:18 CEST    223 km/4 km to go
Four kilometres to go for the two leaders, as they make their way towards the finish where the crowds are starting to thicken.

17:20 CEST    225 km/2 km to go
Two kilometres, and the gap between Bettini/Basso and Di Luca/Rebellin/Casagrande is 23 seconds. Bettini is still doing a lot of work in front, as he stands to win both a World Cup and take the leader's jersey today. This will be his third World Cup victory of the season after Milan san Remo and HEW.

17:21 CEST    226 km/1 km to go
Last kilometre, and Bettini leads. Basso stays behind him, as he should. He looks back, and sees that they have a comfortable gap to Casagrande and co.

17:22 CEST    227 km/0 km to go
Bettini doesn't care - he leads and sprints from the front. Basso can't follow and has to settle for second.

Danilo Di Luca wins the sprint for third, in front of Casagrande and Noe. Then Gerrikagoitia leads Rebellin, Rasmussen and Boogerd home for 6th. Finally, Paolo Valoti finishes just in front of the bunch at 1'53.

Bettini now has a 97 point lead in the World Cup classification, with Van Petegem not scoring today and remaining on 203 points. In third place is Boogerd, followed by Rebellin. Bettini is well on his way to a second consecutive World Cup title.

That wraps it up for today's live report. Full results, report and photos to follow later on Cyclingnews. Next Sunday you can follow the Championship of Zurich live with us, which promises to be another great race.


1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep                   5.44.42
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco                         0.20
4 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 
5 Andrea Noe (Ita) Alessio                           0.23
6 Gorka Gerrikagoitia (Spa) Euskaltel                0.33
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
8 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
9 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
10 Paolo Valoti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                 1.53

World Cup standings after round 7

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep                      300 pts
2 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                 203
3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                     164
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                 151

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