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24th Clasica San Sebastian - CDM

Spain, August 7, 2004

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Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:35 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 24th Clasica San Sebastian/Klasika Donostia, the seventh round of the World Cup and also the last big one day race before the Olympic Road Race next Sunday (yes, we'll be doing that live too). Today's race is the shortest World Cup at "only" 227 km, but the parcours contains several categorised climbs, including the Cat. 1 Jaizkibel at 36 km to go, and the Cat. 3 Alto de Gurutze with 13.5 km to go. The Jaizkibel usually causes the first big selection in the classic, but the Gurutze is often where the final winning move is made.

The field is packed with top one day riders, including World Cup leader Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), World Champion Igor Astarloa (Lampre), last year's winner Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon), top Spanish talent Alejandro Valverde (Com.Valenciana-Kelme) and Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Saunier Duval). Cancellara, Flecha, Merckx, Casagrande, Camenzind, Ullrich, Zabel, Cunego, Karpets, Freire, Dekker, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Heras, Azevedo, Basso, Tonkov, Jeker, Brochard, Mayo and Zubeldia are all here, and with this sort of depth it wouldn't be surprising if a fairly large group came to the finish in San Sebastian.

14:50 CEST   
The race started today at 11:30 with 188 riders rolling out of San Sebastian in warm sunshine. It didn't take long before Alexandre Bazhenov (Domina), Pat McCarty (USPS) and Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) launched the first attack, but they were quickly caught.

A new group with 12 riders attacked before the Cat. 3 Alto de Orio, containing Aitor Osa (Illes Balears) Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel), José Angel Gomez (Paternina) and Leif Hoste, but the peloton caught them after some 30 km.

On the Cat. 2 Alto de Gárate, Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) crossed the summit in front, followed by Garzelli, Gomez and Totschnig. A group of 23 riders formed over the top, with Moos (Phonak), Sgambelluri (Vini Caldirola), Serrano (Liberty), Weening, Leipheimer, Kroon (Rabobank), Noval (US Postal), Cañada (Saunier), Sorensen (CSC), Moerenhout, Merckx (Lotto), Atienza, Fofonov (Cofidis), Nardello, Guerini (T-Mobile), Brochard, Chaurreau (Ag2r), Dufaux, Sinkewitz (Quick Step), Gómez (Paternina), Plaza (Kelme), Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) and Aitor Osa (Illes Balears).

After 48 km, this group had 1'32, increasing it to 2'30 at km 55 before the peloton reacted. The gap has slowly reduced since then to a minute after 120 km.

14:51 CEST   
On the Alto de Udana (km 101), it was José Ángel Gómez (Paternina) who summited first ahead of Totschnig, Plaza and Chaurreau.

15:12 CEST   
After the Cat. 2 Alto de Udana (101), there are no more categorised climbs before the Jaizkibel (km 195). The road is not exactly flat, however. The Jaizkibel measures 8 km at an average gradient of 5.1%, although km 2-3 and km 4-5 are both approximately 7.5%.

15:20 CEST    155km/72km to go
The composition of the break - both its size and the quality of riders - has meant that the racing has been kept under tight control by the top riders' teams, who want their men at the front of the race before the final climbs. With riders like Leipheimer, Merckx, Brochard and Totschnig in front, it would be dangerous to let them get 10 minutes.

15:25 CEST    165km/62km to go
The front group has split, with 14 riders getting clear of the original 23: Moos (Phonak), Sgambelluri (Vini Caldirola), Barredo (Liberty), Leipheimer, Kroon (Rabobank), Christensen (CSC), Nardello (T-Mobile), Inaudi, Chaurreau (AG2R), Dufaux (Quick Step) Plaza (Kelme), Stangelj (Saeco), Hauptman and Scotto (Lampre) are the names reported.

The last time check to the peloton was 4'35 - the biggest lead so far.

15:37 CEST    170km/57km to go
One of our readers has pointed out that today could be the first of many battles between young talents Damiano Cunego and Alejandro Valverde. So far this season, the pair have won 24 races between them, and Valverde was practically unstoppable in last week's Vuelta a Burgos where he won three out of four stages and the overall. Cunego hasn't won a race since the Giro d'Italia, but with some big targets in the latter half of the season, he should be putting his climbing and sprinting talents to good use today.

15:38 CEST    177km/50km to go
With 50 km to go, the 14 leaders are still holding an advantage over the peloton, which has picked up its pace. The Jaizkibel starts at km 187.

15:42 CEST    183km/44km to go
Ruben Plaza (Kelme) and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) have attacked the leading group, and have 40 seconds advantage. However, the peloton is flying now and is a mere 1'40 behind the two leaders.

15:50 CEST   
Leipheimer and Plaza (that's Ruben, not David) have been joined by Stangelj (Saeco), but the peloton is drawing very close now.

15:53 CEST    187km/40km to go
Leipheimer, Plaza and Stangelj have reached the foot of the Jaizkibel with 36 km to go, still holding a 1'12 lead over the peloton.

15:55 CEST    188km/39km to go
The peloton is really motoring, sweeping up all the other breakaways - Kroon, Calvente, Chaurreau and a couple of others - right at the foot of the 8 km climb.

Leipheimer has gone solo, dropping Stangelj and Plaza on the Jaizkibel.

15:56 CEST   
Bettini is leading the peloton, with Ivanov and Dekker on his wheel. Bettini looks behind, he's not going full gas yet. Ullrich and Rebellin are right there too.

15:57 CEST    189km/38km to go
Leipheimer battles up the climb as the peloton splits up behind him. Valverde punctures at an appalling moment, but luckily gets a wheel and a push from a teammate. He's making his way through the shreds of the peloton now.

15:59 CEST    190km/37km to go
Leipheimer is really struggling, trying to keep a good tempo on the climb, but the peloton will catch him surely. Yes, he's gone.

Valverde passes Karpets on his way back through the peloton.

16:01 CEST    191km/36km to go
Paolo Bettini and Davide Rebellin are now leading the race, with Perdiguero and Piepoli (Saunier) right behind them. Perdiguero tries to accelerate, but fails. Bettini resumes control in front.

16:02 CEST   
Piepoli and Rebellin accelerate slightly, and get a little gap.

Further back in the race, Hincapie and Azevedo (USPS) are dropped.

16:04 CEST    192km/35km to go
Serrano, Totschnig and Perdiguero attack next, shredding the group down to eight riders. Bettini is there, and Rebellin, and a CSC and Phonak rider.

A group of five with Ullrich in it is trying to chase back on.

16:06 CEST    193km/34km to go
The road dips a little, but it's still the same eight riders away. Ullrich's group of five also contains Verbrugghe and Astarloa, and they are behind caught by a bigger group which has Valverde and Garzelli in it. Valverde is the one driving the pace.

In front: Totschnig, Rebellin, Bettini, Basso, Serrano, Perdiguero + Phonak + Relax Bodysol.

16:08 CEST    194km/33km to go
The chasing group numbers about 25 men, but the leading seven (the Phonak rider has been dropped - still unsure of his ID) have a nice gap as they approach the top of the Jaizkibel. Totschnig and Rebellin look good.

16:09 CEST   
The Relax rider is Alberto Martinez.

16:11 CEST    194.5km/32.5km to go
Rebellin's teammate Georg Totschnig is doing an excellent job on the Jaizkibel, leading his captain all the way. 1 km to the summit, and the lead group is: Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), Davide Rebellin, Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Miguel Perdiguero (Saunier), Marcos Serrano (Liberty), Ivan Basso (CSC), Alberto Martinez (Bodysol).

16:12 CEST    196km/31km to go
David Herrero (Paternina) and Constantino Zaballa (Saunier) are trying to bridge the gap alone, but the leaders are now at the summit of the Jaizkibel.

16:13 CEST    197km/30km to go
Herrero and Zaballa are 42 seconds behind the leaders at the top, then another three riders at 50 seconds, then the rest of the chase group, all at less than a minute.

16:15 CEST    199km/28km to go
Ullrich has to drop back to the rest of the chase group with a mechanical. The Mavic neutral service gives him a water bottle, but they can't help him. It wasn't a flat tyre - perhaps it was his seatpost? His race is over though.

16:16 CEST   
The leaders and chasers are flying down the descent of the Jaizkibel, and all the time it's the same seven riders in the lead. Bettini is doing a fair bit of work, while Rebellin is watching.

16:19 CEST    201km/26km to go
Bettini sits up at the back of the break and chugs down an energy drink of some description. He'll need all the go power he can get for the finale.

The chasers have regrouped, and a bunch of around 20 men are descending the Jaizkibel at 1'00. It's going to be tough to get these leaders back unless they stop riding in front.

16:21 CEST    203km/24km to go
The leaders are really hammering on the descent as they pass under 25 km to go. Perdiguero is now on the back, as Bettini tows the break.

16:22 CEST    204km/23km to go
Alberto Martinez (Bodysol) has attacked the break, but surely he won't get far as Totschnig drives up the tempo behind. They're on the flat again now.

16:24 CEST    205km/22km to go
The chase group looks a bit disorganised at the moment. They know that the big guns are still 50 seconds up the road. Astarloa is at the back of the group, having just got some water from a neutral car.

In front, Alberto Martinez has 10 seconds lead on the other six.

16:25 CEST    206km/21km to go
Martinez looks comfortable, but the others reel him in again.

In the chase group, Flecha, Dekker and Freire try to form a group off the front.

16:27 CEST    208km/19km to go
we're back to Bettini, Rebellin, Totschnig, Perdiguero, Serrano, Basso and Martinez in front, holding a 54 second lead on the chase group. Rebellin and Totschnig chat to each other at the back. Bettini sits up and takes a drink. He looks very comfy.

The chase group is disorganised again. No-one is working, although Saeco is trying to get something going.

16:29 CEST   
Rebellin looks to be the most relaxed in the leading group. He's been super consistent in the big one day races this year. But a rider like Bettini will push him all the way. They are nearly on the final climb of the Alto de Gurutze.

16:30 CEST    212km/15km to go
Rebellin leads on the Gurutze, a Cat. 3 2.8 km climb averaging 5 percent. Totschnig takes over, with Basso following.

Last year, Bettini and Basso attacked here and made it to the finish together, with Bettini winning.

16:32 CEST    213km/14km to go
Perdiguero and Serrano are struggling to hold on to the pace, as is Martinez, who gets a drink from his team car.

Filippo Simeoni and Xavier Florencio have attacked the chase group on the climb. Where's US Postal?

16:33 CEST    213km/14km to go
The leading group is still together as it nears the top of the Alto de Gurutze. A minute behind, Simeoni and Florencio are joined by Flecha and a couple of others.

Bettini attacks, and gets a small gap. Rebellin and Basso chase, but they're nearly at the top now.

16:35 CEST    214km/13km to go
Simeoni is driving the chase group, which is gradually growing as riders bridge up from behind. Verbrugghe is the next to bridge up.

But the real race is happening in front. Bettini leads with Rebellin and Basso following. The same seven are hanging together.

16:36 CEST    214km/13km to go
The leaders are now over the top of the Alto de Gurutze with 1'22 on the chase group, which is breaking up again. They're racing for 8th place anyway.

16:37 CEST    216km/11km to go
Totschnig is still in the lead group, sitting on the back as his team leader takes over in front. Rebellin has the luxury of a teammate in the break, while all the others are alone.

16:39 CEST   
Totschnig takes over in front, helping to keep the pace up. He may have taken the intermediate sprint from Perdiguero.

Flecha is now powering the chase group with Cunego on his wheel, it looks like.

16:40 CEST    217km/10km to go
The leaders have 10 km to go, and are starting to watch each other. Rebellin comes through for a turn.

Ullrich's problem was indeed with his saddle.

16:42 CEST    219km/8km to go
Erik Dekker attacks the chase group, but gets several riders for company.

In front, Martinez is hanging on the back. Totschnig does some more work, then Bettini, looking super relaxed on the hoods.

Ivan Basso is chasing back on after a flat.

16:43 CEST   
Basso is nearly on the back of the group again, but this will cost him the power needed for an attack late in the race. It looks like Bettini, Perdiguero and Rebellin will be the top three, if it comes to a sprint.

16:44 CEST    220km/7km to go
In the chase group of 20, Flecha tries to break it up. No dice. They're well out of contention as the leaders have 7 km to go.

Totschnig does more work, while Bettini and Rebellin watch each other like hawks. Basso is back, trying to recover after his flat tyre.

16:46 CEST    221km/6km to go
Bettini looks nervous as he comes through for a turn, then Rebellin does a short one before his teammate Totschnig takes over for a longer one. Serrano, Basso are next in line.

Martinez and Perdiguero are sitting on the back.

16:46 CEST    222km/5km to go
5 km to go, and the same seven that went over the top of the Jaizkibel are still together. No-one looks interested in attacking at the moment.

Perdiguero does come up for a turn, before Totschnig takes over yet again. Impressive job by the Austrian.

16:48 CEST    223km/4km to go
There are more attacks in the chase group, which is going for eighth place, but they're not catching the leaders.

Totschnig leads with Bettini on his wheel at 4 km out from the finish. Bettini takes over, flicking his head nervously back at Rebellin.

16:49 CEST    224km/3km to go
Rebellin looks a lot calmer than his compatriot, who is watching him closely.

Serrano attacks! But Bettini is right on his wheel. It causes Martinez and Totschnig a bit of pain, but the group reforms.

Perdiguero counters on a little descent, but Bettini is right there.

16:50 CEST   
Totschnig drives up the left hand side, forcing Basso and Bettini to chase with Rebellin on their wheels. Totschnig eases up, but continues on the front. Watch out for Martinez...

16:50 CEST    225km/2km to go
Bettini does a turn, then Rebellin, then Totschnig again. 2 km left.

16:51 CEST   
Martinez tries to attack, but almost immediately hits the wall. Totschnig counters, hard.

16:51 CEST    226km/1km to go
Bettini has to chase down Totschnig and it's together with 1 km to go. Sort of

16:53 CEST    227km/0km to go
Basso counters and leads out the sprint from 900m out. That's probably a tad optimistic. Bettini, Perdiguero, Martinez and Rebellin on Basso's wheel.

Perdi attacks on the right with 300m to go, taking Bettini, who was looking to his left at Rebellin, by surprise. Bettini reacts but it is just too late and Perdiguero wins!!!! Bettini and Rebellin second and third.

16:54 CEST   
Verbrugghe will take eighth, as he comes in solo at 1'19. Then Zaballa (Saunier Duval) at 1'35 and Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) wins the group sprint for 10th a few seconds later.

Rebellin will therefore keep his World Cup jersey with 282 points, while Bettini in second place now has 238 points. It's going to be a close fight right to the final round, it looks like.

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Clasica San Sebastian. We'll be posting full results, report and pics a little later on today.


1 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval      5.18.35
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
4 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty
5 Alberto Martinez (Spa) Relax
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                       0.06
7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner                         
8 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo                            1.19
9 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval                    1.35
10 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                           1.39

World Cup standings after round 7

1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                          282 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                    238

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