Adam Yates attacked at the summit of the final climb and 7km later crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of the leading group totally unaware that he’d just won.
The race may have begun under leaden skies but the sun soon broke through the clouds to shine on a fascinating contest with most of the action in the last part of the parcours. An early eight-man break was allowed some – but not too much – latitude by Movistar who controlled and led the peloton for most of the race.
A further break formed as the peloton headed for its second ascent of the Jaizkibel while the front group started to fracture with Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) going for broke, prompting Movistar to step it up a gear before the eight break-mates regrouped only for most of them to retire, job done, before the second climb up Arkale. This was where the peloton splintered and the leading group, including most of the favourites, headed for the final obstacle of the day. Yates attacked as they crested the climb leaving the rest to contest a small bunch sprint where Philippe Gilbert got the better of Alejandro Valverde.
Rider of the race
Adam Yates attacked from the leading posse over the crest of the final climb, swooped down the descent and time-trialled his way to victory, crossing the finish line seemingly unaware that he’d won. Not too shabby for a second-year, 22-year-old rider. This victory cements the reputation he established last year with his overall win in the Tour of Turkey.
As is usual in Spanish races, the victor also took home several other prizes. Orica-GreenEDGE had to call in reinforcements to carry all his swag. It was great to see a rider from a team which participates in a number of Europe Tour races in this area take home the prize, proving a little bit of inside knowledge goes a long way.
He still looked totally bemused on the podium and was unable to prise the cork from his bottle of fizz. Luckily, the more experienced Valverde was able to lend him a hand.
In the post-race press conference Adam confirmed he hadn’t realised he’d won when he first crossed the line because he’d had to ride around Greg Van Avermaet who’d been knocked over by a motorbike, hence he thought there were other riders up the road. But he realised pretty soon after from the shouts of joy from the team car.
He also explained it was too early to say what type of races he prefers or what type of rider he will become. One thing is for sure: his star is very much on the rise.
Four thoughts on the race
1. Unpredictable. Few will have predicted the winner. But that wasn’t the only surprise. There was no Basque rider in the day’s break! Typically you’d expect fan favourite Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) or his Caja Rural teammate Omar Fraile to be in the early break hoovering up points in either the intermediate sprints or king of the mountains competitions. Instead, both these competitions were won by Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin).
2. The parcours. Last year’s changes to the traditional parcours have invigorated the race while, at the same time, better showcasing the beaches and architectural splendours of San Sebastian and have probably ensured that Spain retains its only one-day WorldTour race.
3. Anniversary celebration. This year’s race celebrated Abraham Olano’s victory in the 1995 world road race championships in Colombia. A Basque sprinter who began his career on the track, he won the Vuelta a Espana in 1998 and remains the only male rider of the modern era to win the world championship in both the road race (1995) and the individual time trial (1998).
4. Everyone’s a winner. I love how Spanish races always award a plethora of prizes. Apart from the podium there are prizes for the winner of the intermediate sprints, top dog in the mountains, the longest escape, the most combative, best team, best-placed Basque and best-placed rider from the province of Gipuzcoana. Everyone gets a cup but only the victor gets to wear the txapela, the big black Basque beret which should be worn dead straight and not at a jaunty angle!
The race in numbers
1 – Maiden WorldTour victory of race winner Adam Yates.
1 – Yates is the first British winner of this race.
8 – Consecutive editions of this event won by someone coming out of the Tour de France.
2 – Number of previous race winners on the podium – Philippe Gilbert (2011) and Alejandro Valverde (2008 and 2014).
1. Adam Yates (Orice Green-EDGE) 5:30:22
2. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) +0:15
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) same time
4. Dani Moreno (Katusha) s/t
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) s/t
6. Bauke Mollema (Trek) s/t
7. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) s/t
8. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) s/t
9. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) s/t
10. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) s/t
Link: Official race website
Header: Clasica San Sebastian 2015 podium © Richard Whatley