In today’s 37th Clasica San Sebastian, Michal Kwiatkowski was part of a five-man group, four of whom had ridden the Tour de France, which had attacked from the reduced peloton on the ascent of the fearsome Murgil, the day’s last climb, before swooping back into town to contest the sprint for the line. Won with ease by the Polish rider ahead of former race winners, Tony Gallopin (2013) and defending champion Bauke Mollema, who rounded out the podium. This victory takes Kwiatkowski into second place in the WorldTour rankings and he becomes only the second rider ever to win Milan-San Remo and the Clasica in the same season. Post-race Kwiatko paid tribute to the work done by his team, particularly the crucial role of Basque rider Mikel Landa.
Rider of the race
In the Clasica, the spoils typically all go to the victor – a txapela (floppy black Basque beret), €16,000, a trophy, 80 UCI WorldTour points and this award – but not this year. Sorry Michal but then you were our Tour MVP! This year, the accolade goes to Trek-Segafredo’s Haimar Zubeldia who has ridden his last ever race. Wearing the No. 1 bib, thanks to teammate and defending champion Bauke Mollema, he’s closing out a 20-year long career in the sport on home turf in front of thousands of adoring fans and family. That’s some achievement! And, of course, just about everyone wanted a selfie with the soon-to-be-retired rider.
The 40-year-old Basque will probably be most fondly remembered for his below-the-radar performances in the Tour de France, which netted him five top-10 GC finishes. I was fortunate to chat to him during the most recent Tour – he’s a shy, humble guy who was at pains to explain his longevity in the sport. He said it wasn’t due to anything in particular and, of course, at the start of his career he’d never dreamt he’d still be riding at this age. But he’d stayed fit, competitive, and still loved riding his bike.
Inevitably our discussion turned towards retirement and it was clear that whatever he did, cycling would still feature. Haimar said:
Fortunately in my career I have had a lot of help around me and my idea is to have time to ride, but at another level. I have a lot of experience and I’d like to continue in cycling. I don’t know now in which side. But first, I’ll need to organise my life and spend time with my family because in the last few years, with the days spent racing and at camps, I’ve missed them a lot.
Whatever he does next, VeloVoices wishes him every success and we hope we’ll see him passing on that considerable experience to the younger generation of Basque riders.
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) 5:52:53
2 Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) same time
3 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
4 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) s/t
5 Mikel Landa (Sky) +0:02
Intermediate Sprints: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC)
KOM: Loic Chetout (Cofidis)
Best Basque: Mikel Landa (Sky)
Best Young Rider: Alberto Bettiol (Cannonade-Drapac)
Best Team: Sky
Link: Full race report Cyclingnews
Header: ©Richard Whatley