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27th Clásica San Sebastián - ProT

Spain, August 4, 2007

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST

15:29 CEST   
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews coverage Spain's biggest one-day Classic, the Clásica San Sebastián. This year the races celebrates its 27th birthday and it is perfect weather conditions for the party; there are sunny skies and the temperatures are just under 30°C.

Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step Innergetic)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

15:35 CEST   
The riders signed in this morning along the Bay of Biscay in San Sebastián. Missing was World Champion Paolo Bettini due to knee tendonitis but there were other champions; 2005 ProTour Champion and current ProTour Leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) was present, 2007 Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step Innergetic) signed in his tricolore jersey and Beat Zberg (Gerolsteiner) represented Switzerland in its national champ jersey.

15:38 CEST   
The parcours favours the numerous cyclists that inhabit this part of Spain rich in cycling. It is certainly no sprinters' day out, however, the climbs that the organizers have included in will most likely not be enough to split the peloton completely and a small break could decide the day.

The cyclists of the Clásica Donostiarra will encounter the toughest of the day's climbs at kilometre 193, the category one Jaizkibel. The climb rears its ugly head 32 kilometres from the finish and typically provides the decisive split in the remaining gruppo.

Following the Jaizkibel is the category 3 Alto de Gurutze at kilometre 211. The gruppetto that makes it over the top of the Alto de Gurutze first will need to have a decent advantage over the peloton as there are still 14 kilometres of racing remaining to the line and the small uncategorized kick of the Alto de Miracruz with three kilometres to go.

Nine climbs (six categorized):
Cat. 3 Alto de Orio-Zudugarai at kilometre 19
Cat. 3 Alto de Meagas at kilometre 27
Cat. 2 Alto de Azkarate at kilometre 56.5
Cat. 2 Alto de Udana at kilometre 99
No Cat. Alto Irurain at kilometre 157
No Cat. Alto de Gaintxurizketa at kilometre 180
Cat. 1 Alto de Jaizkibel at kilometre 193
Cat. 3 Alto de Gurutze at kilometre 211
No Cat. Alto de Miracruz at kilometre 222

15:43 CEST   
This race follows on the heels of the Tour de France and it will be a chance for many riders to make amends, like hot-favourite Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

Euskaltel-Euskadi is essentially the home-team and will want to leave its mark. It is expected to lead with Haimar Zubeldia, Mikel Astarloza and Samuel Sánchez. Sammy Sánchez beautifully proved his one-day abilities with wins in Vuelta stage 13 and the GP Zürich last fall.

15:48 CEST    188km/37km to go
José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre-Fondital), Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) were in the lead group before starting the Alto de Jaizkibel.
There is a current group of four have 1'35" over the peloton lead by Caisse for Valverde.

15:52 CEST    189.5km/35.5km to go
The escape went at 30 kilometres into the day when Bossoni attacked. He was followed by Francesco Bellotti (Crédit Agricole), three riders from Euskaltel and Mauro Facci (Quick.Step Innergetic).

José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre-Fondital), Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) have been caught.

The gap to Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick.Step Innergetic), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), David López García (Caisse d'Epargne), José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance) is 1'41".

15:57 CEST    191.4km/33.6km to go
It is baking hot out here. Cyclingnews' Seat is parked here on the side of the road. We see Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) going strong in the group.

Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) is pumping on the front of the chase group for teammate Valverde. He looks slick in his Spanish national champ jersey. He grabs a water bottle. This group is really thinning down as the race hits the 465-metre peak of the Jaizkibel. There are about 30 riders here.

A Saunier rider attacks.

15:57 CEST   
This climb is lush and green but no trees for shade.

15:58 CEST    191.9km/33.1km to go
José Luis Arrieta leads the front group of four. They have 1'10" on the chase.

15:59 CEST   
Barredo is at the front of the chase. He is likely working for compatriot and teammate Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step Innergetic). Both Spaniards are fresh from the Tour de France.

The attacking rider was José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir)... He is pulled back.

16:00 CEST   
Garate is now on the front but he looks around for help.

16:02 CEST    193km/32km to go
José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r Prévoyance) leads over the Alto de Jaizkibel followed by Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick.Step Innergetic) and Michael Albasini (Liquigas). The three have dropped David López García (Caisse d'Epargne).

58 seconds to a small group of 10 that is quickly followed by the main group.

16:03 CEST   
Following the Jaizkibel is the category 3 Alto de Gurutze at kilometre 211. The four-man group will need to have a decent advantage over the peloton as there are still 14 kilometres of racing remaining to the line and the small uncategorized kick of the Alto de Miracruz with three kilometres to go.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

16:06 CEST   
José Luis Arrieta keeps the pace high for the THREE-man group on the descent. Swiss Albasini grabs a water bottle on the descent. It is a talented rider that can do that on such a fast run downhill.

16:10 CEST    200km/25km to go
Albasini is without a doubt the fastest sprinter in the group and the Belgian and Spaniard will want to ditch the rider from Ticino before reaching San Sebastián.

16:12 CEST   
Valverde is fuelling as the riders are now on the flats, passing the San Sebastián airport. Discovery Channel is not very well represented in this chase group. Allan Davis would have a good sprint given his chance.

16:16 CEST    207km/18km to go
The 26 year-old, fifth-year pro Albasini last won in April at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The front three are rotating in a counter-clockwise motion.

Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) is back on the front of this chase for Valverde. He gets some help from a Caisse teammate. 'The Green Bullet' has never won this race and that is amazing considering his palmarès.

Danger man Tin-Tin Rebellin is there, as well as Ballan and Visconti... Italian Champ Visconti forms part of a four-man Quick.Step representation in this chase. Plus they have Jurgen Van de Walle in the front!

16:18 CEST    208km/17km to go
Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) has edged off the front of the chase with a CSC and Euskaltel rider.

The three have only 50 seconds on the chase as they start the Alto de Gurutze.

16:20 CEST   
DS Mario Scirea is there in the acid-green team car to encourage Albasini. The gap is 34".

Oh! The chase passed a crystal-clear swimming pool. A few riders look over and they seem to want to go for a swim. We may pull over the Seat Ibizia 1.2 to have a dip!

16:21 CEST   
Valverde attacks!

16:21 CEST   
A Unibet rider chases him down... It is Matteo Carrara. Garate is there and there is a re-grouping.

16:23 CEST   
Number 61, Valverde, goes again. He catches the three men.

16:24 CEST   
Sastre, Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) quickly join 'The Green Bullet' that has fired.

He went right before the top of the cat. 3 Alto de Gurutze.

16:25 CEST    212.2km/12.8km to go
If Ballan wins he would be the first rider in ?? years who has won the Tour of Flanders-San Sebastián double. Who was the last? Write in an email.

16:28 CEST    213.5km/11.5km to go
Our Seat 1.2 has now passed the city limit sign of Oiartzun. The windows are down just as the riders' jerseys are unzipped.

16:28 CEST   
Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick.Step Innergetic) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) have a small gap.

16:29 CEST   
The Spaniard and Italian are likely working for their teammates because the chances of them avoiding he sprint finish are slim to none.

16:31 CEST   
Both Gilberto Simoni and Bertagnolli are from Trento, which is the sister city of San Sebastián. Garate has his mouth open. He comes to the front after Bertagnolli signals him with his elbow. Maybe they could do it.

A Saunier rider leads on the front of the chase. No one seems to want to do the muscle work to close this. Schleck is also in the chase group.

16:32 CEST    218km/7km to go
The unclassified Alto de Miracruz starts. The advantage is around 20 seconds, which is not small.

16:33 CEST    218.9km/6.1km to go
The two will be talking in Italian as the 2005 Spanish Champ speaks the language well.

USA vs USA as they both are on American bikes.

16:34 CEST    220km/5km to go
Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is marked by Garate's teammate, Barredo, in the chase.

16:35 CEST    221km/4km to go
The gap is 35 seconds! They might just make it to fight for the 27th edition of this Spanish Classic.

16:36 CEST   
Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step Innergetic) have a gap behind.

16:37 CEST   
The two are between the leaders and the main gruppo.

16:38 CEST    222.5km/2.5km to go
The front two are on the Alto de Miracruz now, we were wrong before. On paper Garate is the stronger finisher. The gap is 38".

Ballan has fired! He is now on Barredo and Astarloza.

16:39 CEST   
The flamme rouge approaches marking the final kilometre.

With Ballan there is Sastre, Valverde, Astarloza, Barredo...

16:40 CEST    224km/1km to go
The front duo takes the left to enter the final boulevard. Bertagnolli leads under the 1K to go marker.

16:40 CEST   
Leo still leads over Garate.

16:41 CEST   
There are five in the chase. Valverde, Ballan, Sastre, ...

5:12' of racing...

16:41 CEST   
Garate fires through the left-hander.

16:41 CEST   
Leo comes back around on his right...

16:41 CEST   
They are going head and head with 300 metres to go!

16:42 CEST   
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) muscles up to pass Garate! The Italian gets it over the Spaniard after 5.12.44 of racing.

16:42 CEST   
It looks like Valverde who leads the group of five over the line for third.

16:47 CEST   
Garate led through the semi-curve but Bertagnolli came up on his right side with 100 metres to go, a lot closer to the line then we originally reported.

It was a Liquigas revenge after Garzelli came so close last year to winning when he finished second to Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) in a much larger group sprint.

16:48 CEST   
The 29 year-old Trentino, sixth-year pro gets his first win of the season. It has been a hard year for him with sickness controlling most of 2007, his first year in the acid-green colours of Liquigas.

16:54 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews today for our live coverage. Come back later for a full report.


Provisional results

1 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Liquigas
2 Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Quick.Step Innergetic
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne