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Clásica de San Sebastián - Preview One
By Podofdonny
Date: 8/5/2003
Clásica de San Sebastián - Preview One
Clásica de San Sebastián - 2003

© Bruce McGaw

The Clasica San Sebastian is the only Spanish Race in the World Cup Series.

After last weekend's race through the City of Hamburg, San Sebastian is all about hills, panoramic views and the JAIZKIBEL.

Raced over 227 kilometres, the riders face a succession of climbs, starting with the third cat ALTO DE ORIO after 19 kilometres.

At 29 kilometres the second cat ALTO DE GARATE; the riders then head through the climb and tunnel of the ALTO DE AZKARATE after 59 kilometres, and then tackle the ALTO DE UDANA after 100 kilometres.

Then follow 100 kilometres of rolling countryside with glimpses of the ocean in the distance before the riders tackle the key point of the race the ALTO DE JAIZKIBEL (after 195 kilometres), which is usually the deciding climb. However, those who make the usually small selection must also have the legs to stay away from the peloton and tackle the last obstacle of the day, the ALTO DE GURUTZE, a third cat climb just 14 kilometres from the finish.

The race is ideally suited to punchy climbers who have the legs to tackle the Jaizkibel, and the racing know-how to stay in a small group and dominate at the end. Laurent Jalabert, who has won the race for the last two seasons, fits the profile of a San Sebastian type rider perfectly.

Last Year's Race

22nd Clasica San Sebastian

Spain, August 10, 2002

The rain in Spain was certainly falling in San Sebastian when the race got underway, as usual the hill of the Jaizkibel situated 36 kilometres from the finish would prove to be the decisive point of the race.

It was Andrei Kivilev, anxious to prove a point after poor showing in the Tour de France, who made the decisive attack on the foothills of the climb. Jalabert, Astarloa (again having a great race), Missaglia, and Frigo proved to the only men strong enough to match the move and this select group of five managed to stay clear to the end.

Meanwhile, trailing in their wake, the peloton had hit the panic buttons, the race suddenly fell apart for US Postal who seemed to be in command up until that point - once again it was Armstrong trying to organise a chase - but a crash on the descent of the Jaizkibel ended Hincapie’s hopes of a world cup victory. Meanwhile the five men in the lead were happy to work together. But as they started the final sprint Jalabert proved to be a class above the other contenders. Kivilev jumped first, and it seemed an age before Jalabert responded, but when he did it was a class act. With enough time to gently warn Astarloa he was coming through, Jaja added to his hat collection and gave warm memories again to his many fans in Spain.

Bettini once again picked up vital CDM points with a useful 7th place, closing the gap at the top on Museeuw.


1 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) CSC-Tiscali 5.47.29 (39.19 km/h)

2 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco-Longoni Sport

3 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin

© BBC Jalabert gets his second Txapela!

The Scenery

Distances: 20 km to the French border (Hendaia/Hendaye in Lapurdi province), 75 km to Pamplona, 100 km to Bilbao, 465 km to Madrid, 780 km to Paris.

Names: It is called officially Donostia-San Sebastián, in Basque is called Donostia, and in Spanish San Sebastián. Although many people called it just Donosti, even using Spanish.

The Basques are the oldest ethnic group in Europe. Their language (Euskara or Euskera) is a prelatin language. The Basque Country, called Euskal Herria or Euskadi in Basque language or País Vasco in Spanish, that belongs to Spain refers uniquely to three provinces (Gipuzkoa or Guipúzcoa, Bizkaia or Vizcaya and Araba or Álava), but there is also fourth province: Nafarroa or Navarra, that specially in the north, has a very strong Basque fealing. There is also another Basque Country, that formed in the French area, formed by three provinces: Lapurdi, the most important one (Biarritz and Baiona are the most important towns), Behenafarroa and Zuberoa.

Death of a Peloton

The irony of the race being held at the same time the Spanish peloton is in free fall would not be missed by writers such as Gómez de la Serna.

ONCE have been supporting a team since 1989 but the new head of the organisation, Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro, has decided that it is time to call it a day. Banesto are also pulling out at the end of the year and Kelme, hit hard by economic circumstances, are certainly not in a strong position. Of the major teams only Euskatel have a guaranteed future.

Poor economic circumstances and the long shadow of dopage are being blamed, however one fact is certain. Spanish TV audiences were at record highs in last year's Vuelta and this year's Tour de France. Sport is always a balance of fact and speculation; had Beloki’s rear tyre stayed in tact and he had gone on to win the Tour (or had an honourable podium place like Ullrich) it is hard to believe that ONCE would have dared pulled the plug.

© Once

Lance Armstrong

The San Sebastian race is closely associated with Armstrong, in 1992 he burst onto the European peloton in unorthodox fashion, finishing last in the San Sebastian and then coming second in the Zurich Meisterschaft the following week.

Even though Armstrong is listed to start on the official race website, his own site clearly states “For Lance, now it's time for some vacation and a little training before his final 2003 race, the San Francisco GP Sep 14,” a sentiment echoed in this Daily Peloton related article here.

It will be a great disappointment for the Spanish fans if Armstrong does not compete. His 1995 victory, when he became the first American to win a Classic race, is still well remembered and the excitement is well captured by this 1995 Motorola report.

RACE: San Sebastian Classic

Lance Armstrong wrote his name into the history books once again over the weekend when he became the first American in the history of cycling to win a round of the World Cup, or even a race categorized as a classic. Although the San Sebastian race is one of the newer classics, it is ranked as one of the top one day events in the sport.

The young Texan, still only 23 years old, garnered the victory in fine style, winning just ahead of Italian Stefano Della Santa. The pair escaped less than four kilometers from the finish line, after an earlier break by Armstrong and Jalabert had been chased down by the Belgian World Cup leader.

Armstrong was in a select group of seven riders who forced the pace on the Jaizkibel, the tough climb just thirty kilometers from the finish line in San Sebastian. Laurent Jalabert and leader of the World Cup Johan Museeuw were in the group, as well as last week's Leeds classic winner Max Sciandri.

On the descent Sciandri, Armstrong and Jalabert moved clear and built a lead of thirty seconds. However a badly times flat tire left Sciandri by the road side waiting for a new wheel, leaving a Frenchman and an American in the lead. The two worked well together but a concerted chase by Museeuw and Della Santa, both on the MG team, brought the pair back with five kilometers to go.

It was at that moment that Museeuw's team mate Della Santa decided to take advantage of the marking between his leader and the Frenchman Jalabert and take his chance. Armstrong having been so close to a classic win on two previous occasions did not let his chance go and pounced into the slipstream of the Italian.

At the finish line Armstrong unleashed a sprint that his opponent could not respond to, taking an easy victory. His performance allowed him to move up to eighth place in the World Cup rankings. After taking the overall victory in the Tour DuPont and a stage victory in the Tour de France, this classic win was the icing on the cake in what has already been a great season for the Texan.

--Paul Sherwen reporting

1st Lance Armstrong Motorola USA 6hr 00'20"

2nd Stefano Della Santa Mapei-GB Italy @ 02"

3rd Johan Museeuw Mapei-GB Belgium @ 28"

Previous Winners Clásica de San Sebastián

2002 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)

2001 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)

2000 Erik Dekker (Ned)

1999 Francesco Casagrande (Ita)

1998 Francesco Casagrande (Ita)

1997 Davide Rebellin (Ita)

1996 Udo Bölts (Ger)

1995 Lance Armstrong (USA)

1994 Armand De las Cuevas (Fra)

1993 Claudio Chiappucci (Ita)

1992 Raul Alcala (Mex)

1991 Gianni Bugno (Ita)

1990 Miguel Indurain (Spa)

1989 Gerhard Zadrobilek (Aut)

1988 Gert Jan Theunisse (Ned)

1987 Marino Lejarreta (Spa)

1986 Inaki Caston (Spa)

1985 Adrie Van der Poel (Ned)

1984 Niki Rüttimann (Swi)

1983 Claude Criquielion (Bel)

1982 Marino Lejarreta (Spa)

1981 Marino Lejarreta (Spa)

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