Clasica San Sebastian preview

The Tour de France might have finished but August is a busy month on the WorldTour calendar starting with the Clasica San Sebastian. This year the organisers have decided to spice up the traditional route. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect tomorrow.

The parcours

  • This year’s 34th edition features a new 15km concluding urban loop (shown below) intended to freshen up the parcours, showcase the city’s many attractions and draw in even more spectators.

clasica-sansebastian-2014loop

  • That said, the race will follow a similar, albeit shorter (219km), lumpy route to previous editions taking the riders out to the west of San Sebastian before looping around and returning from the east to complete the new city circuit taking in the short Monte Igeldo climb which starts gently before the riders hit four hairpin bends and some steep ramps (20%) near the top. Clasica-Ciclista-San-Sebastian-14-Parcours
  • Traditionally, the final selection is made on the second ascent of the Jaizkibel (second and third cat 1 spikes) , just under 40km from the finish. However, the addition of the 2.5km Igeldo climb, much closer to the line, will probably change the complexion of the race and could provide the launch pad for victory.

Fast facts

  • All 18 WorldTour teams will take part, plus Spanish ProContinental squad Caja Rural, each fielding eight riders.
  • The overall winner gets to wear a big, fat black Basque beret called a txapela.
  • The record of three victories is held by Basque rider Marino Lejarretta (1981, 1982, 1987)
  • RadioShack’s Tony Gallopin, now riding for Lotto-Belisol, won the 2013 edition. It was his first big win, recently consolidated in the Tour de France with a stage win and the maillot jaune on Bastille Day.
The podium from l to r Alejandro Valverde, the winner Tony Gallopin and Roman Kreuziger (image: Richard Whatley)

2013 podium (l to r): Alejandro Valverde, winner Tony Gallopin and Roman Kreuziger (Image: Richard Whatley)

Who to watch

Sadly, none of the Tour de France podium or jersey winners, except for Cannondale’s Peter Sagan, will be participating. The new parcours suits his riding style and he’s still looking for an opportunity to try out his new victory salutes.

Hungry for victory after his third consecutive green jersey (Image: Presse Sports/B Papon)

Still hungry for victory after his third consecutive green jersey (Image: Presse Sports/B Papon)

We have Tour stage winner and yellow jersey wearer Gallopin looking to successfully defend his title, plus, there’s an array of stage winners and those who performed well in the Tour.

These include Tinkoff-Saxo’s Nico Roche and Michael Rogers, sixth-placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), fourth-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Garmin-Sharp’s Ramunas Navardauskas and Tom Jelte-Slagter and Belkin boys Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam. There’s also Lieuwe Westra (Astana), who did a sterling job in the Tour for eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali, and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE). All are capable of winning on this type of terrain.

Nice smile from Tejay (image: Richard Whatley)

Could it be smiles all round for BMC and Tejay? (Image: Richard Whatley)

He’s probably short of racing kilometres, but we can’t ignore 2011 winner Philippe Gilbert or his BMC teammates Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen. Then there’s the recent Tour de Wallonie winner Gianni Meersman and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step) teammates Stybar Zdenek and Jan Bakelants.

Or what about Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)? His form was slowly improving during the Tour and here he’ll be reunited with his faithful wingman Dani Moreno.

The home crowd would obviously prefer a local winner  – they’ve not had one for quite a while – and they would be thrilled if one of the Basque riders such as Mikel Landa (Astana), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Gorka and Jon Izagirre (Movistar) or Trek’s Haimar Zubeldia triumphed. But with the new conclusion, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll ultimately cross the finish line first.

Live coverage and highlights will be shown by Eurosport in the UK. For other coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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