Clasica San Sebastian 2016 review: Bauke Mollema brings it home

Today’s Clasica San Sebastian saw Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo) attack on the final climb, initially as part of a trio, before overhauling Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on one of the steeper ramps then descending like a demon and time-trialling to a solo finish. His breakmates, and former winners here, Tony Gallopin  (Lotto-Soudal) won the two- up sprint from Movistar’s  Alejandro Valverde to round out the podium.

Rider of the race

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To the victor the spoils! Bauke Mollema, who saw his podium spot in the Tour evaporate on stage 19, probably didn’t figure among the favourites for victory today, despite being a regular in this race, runner-up in 2014 and sixth last year. But Bauke had clearly rediscovered his form and went with what proved to be the winning move some 8km from the finish. On the final climb of the day, he overhauled Purito on one of the 20% ramps, before deploying the #storksupertuck on the rapid, technical descent back into San Sebastian. He used his time-trialling skills to increase his slender six-second advantage on the flat to solo across the finish line where he pointed proudly to his sponsor’s name on his jersey as he put to bed his Tour disappointment.

In the post-race press conference Bauke confirmed:

I really like this race and I’ve finished in the top ten in the past five years. It’s one of my favourite races. It’s a Classic but it’s not as stressful as other races. I really like racing in the Basque country and I’m always motivated for this race and my legs were good today.

Things that made us go oooh!

Unpredictable racing. Today’s winner wasn’t the only surprise in this race, as for the second year running, there was no Basque rider in the day’s break! The Caja rider in the break was neo-pro and former under-23 national champion Jaime Ronson who hails from Castilla y Leon – obviously the dozen or so Basques in the race were hoping for bigger and better things. It was Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Drapac), also in the day’s early six-man break, who aped former teammate Nathan Haas to mop up the most points in the intermediate sprints and king of the mountains competitions.


The parcours. The 2014 route changes to the traditional parcours had invigorated the race while, at the same time, better showcasing the scenery, beaches and architectural splendours of San Sebastian, 2016 European Capital of Culture. This year the final part of the route has been tweeked in response to safety concerns. The Bordako Tontorro climb to Igeldo replaces that of the Murgil Bidea, adding a further 1.2km to the course. This is a wider but still steep road which facilitates the placement of barriers and allows the media vehicles and motorbikes to use the previous route to get ahead of the peloton. We’re always in favour of changes that improve rider safety.

Paying homage. This year’s race paid tribute to three former professional Basque cyclists. Firstly, Juan Manuel Garate, now a DS with Cannondale-Drapac, who won this race in  2007 while riding for Quick Step. Then there’s Jose Maria Errandonea who represented Spain on the track at the 1960 Summer Olympics, won a stage and wore the yellow jersey in Tour de France 1967. Lastly, Txomin Perurena who was king of the mountains in the 1974 Tour de France and runner-up in the Vuelta the following year. It’s a nice tradition and they’re unlikely to ever run out of Basque riders to honour.

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Cute kiddies on the podium. And the prize goes to Haimar Zubeldia (Trek- Segafredo) – best placed Basque and Guipuzcoanan – who had five children with him on the podium. Runner-up was Purito – most combative – with his two (pictured above) and rounding out the podium, Alejandro Valverde with one of his four children.

Final result

1 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 5:31:00

2 Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) +0:17

3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) same time

4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:22

5 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) + 0:34

Link: Full race report Cyclingnews

Header: ©GettyImages/Corbis Sport/PGS 

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