Florencio Wins Clasica San Sebastian
Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) has taken a surprise victory at the Clasica San Sebastian.
Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) has taken a surprise victory at the Clasica San Sebastian. The Spaniard stole a march on the field to win the hilly, 225-km classic in 5:32:44. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) finished second, and Andrei Kashechkin (Astana) finished third.
From the start, the racing was fast and aggressive. After three breaks had been reeled in, Yon Bru (Kaiku) escaped at 50 km. Bru's lead ballooned to 15:10 on the Category 2 Alto de Udana (99 km) before Euskaltel and Milram began to chase.
The bunch wiped out Bru's advantage within 75 km, and the Frenchman was caught with 46 km remaining, just before the field reached the base of the Category 1 Jaizkibel, the day's major climb. Quick Step, CSC, and Milram led the field up the climb, and Carlos Sastre (CSC) made the first move. Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Frank Schleck (CSC), and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) joined Sastre on the attack.
Mayo's teammate Haimar Zubeldia and Giuliano Figueras (Lampre) joined the break, but Sastre, Mayo, and Menchov dropped their companions. At the summit of the climb, the trio led a 25-strong chase group by 0:20. On the descent, the chase group grew to 40 riders. Caisse d'Epargne drove the chasers for its man, Alejandro Valverde.
For a time, it appeared that the break might stay away. At the summit of the Category 3 Gurutze (211 km), the three escapees led the the pursuit by 0:24. Astana, however, joined Caisse d'Epargne at the front, and the trio's fate was sealed. With five km remaining, the bunch caught the break.
Kashechkin attacked but was reeled in. Kashechkin's teammate Alexander Vinokourov tried twice in the last three km, but the field was together with one km left.
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) appeared at the front but dropped back and would finish ninth. Liquigas led out Garzelli, but Florencio appeared at the front with 600 m remaining. The Spaniard had Kashechkin on his wheel but attacked with 200 m left to earn the biggest victory of his career.
This race was a testing ground for several riders who will or hope to appear in the Vuelta a Espana, which begins on August 26. Sastre, who has ridden the other two Grand Tours this season and was attempting to see if he had the form to ride the Vuelta, finished 45th, one place ahead of Mayo. Valverde, who crashed out of the Tour de France with a broken collarbone, finished eighth. Menchov, last year's Vuelta champion, took 15th place. Check out these riders and others who raced today at www.roadcycling.com!