Gilbert Wins Clasica San Sebastian
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won the Clasica San Sebastian.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won the Clasica San Sebastian. Gilbert, 2011's best classics man, surged into the lead with three km left to win the first major post-Tour tilt in 5:48:52. Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) finished second at 0:12, and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) outsprinted Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) for third at 0:14.
Cool temperatures and clear skies greeted the riders. At 12 km, Karsten Kroon (BMC), Klaus Lodewyck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Julian Sanchez (Caja Rural), Maurilo Fischer (Garmin-Cervelo), Eloy Pinto Ruiz (Andalucia-Caja Granada), and Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) sallied off of the front. The peloton did not chase, and the sextet's lead maxed out at around 10 minutes at 50 km.
Euskaltel-Euskadi began to chase. The lead dropped to 9:30 at 100 km. Movistar and Lampre-ISD joined Euskaltel-Euskadi at the front, and the gap fell to eight minutes at 119 km, 7:45 at the base of the first ascent of the Category 1 Jaizkibel (about 80 km remaining), and about five minutes at the summit. At the summit of the Category 2 Alto de Arkale (55 km left), 4:15 separated bunch and break.
At the base of the second ascent of the Jaizkibel, the escapees led the field by 2:45. Euskaltel-Euskadi did the pacemaking, and the peloton split. A lead group of about 50 riders closed to within 1:19 of the break.
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked and bridged up to Kroon and Fischer, the last two members of the break. Barredo bridged up to the leaders, while behind, Gilbert led a group of about 15 riders in pursuit.
On the descent, a regroupment occurred. About 30 riders were in the lead group, Three km later, Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked. The Belgian led the pursuit by 0:30.
Gilbert, Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Van Avermaet, Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack), Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) chased. Zubeldia, Sanchez, and Vanendert caught Devolder with 25 km left.
Vanendert, Gilbert, and Sanchez led the field over the second ascent of the Arkale (219 km). Barredo attacked, and Vanendert brought him back. Gilbert and Van Avermaet led the rest of the chase that reeled in the Spaniard.
With seven km left, Barredo tried again. One km later, he led Van Avermaet, Gilbert, Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek), Zubeldia, and Vanendert by 0:11.
With four km left, Gilbert attacked and bridged up to Barredo. The Belgian then surged away from the Spaniard. Barredo attempted to get to grips with Gilbert, and the chasers tried to reeled in the Belgian, but the Omega Pharma-Lotto man would not be caught.
"It's a great victory and a beautiful race. Today I had a great emotions, it's been an incredible year for me," said Gilbert who won the first stage of the Tour de France this year and remained very visible and animating during the rest of the Tour.
Van Avermaet took the sprint for third among the 7-man chase group that made the selection over the final Jaizkibel category 1 climb. "I felt really good after suffering on the Jaizkibel," Van Avermaet said. "I was putting everything on my sprint because I knew I was one of the fastest guys in front. But I was also hoping (Samuel) Sanchez and (Frank) Schleck could close the gap to Gilbert."
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