Uran ninth in San Sebastian
Gilbert takes solo victory in Donostia
By Richard Simpson. Last Updated: 01/08/11 7:32pm
Urán: Continued his good form at San Sebastian
Rigoberto Urán finished among the favourites at Clasica San Sebastian to take ninth on the line in the prestigious one-day classic.
The Colombian put in an attacking ride on his return to competition after the Tour de France, following a number of key attacks in the closing stages to finish the arduous event in the lead group.
Urán was quick to shut down dangerous moves which began to form on the flat run-up to the final climb of the day, proving himself to be one of the strongest riders in the race.
The amount of energy expended saw Urán slip back in the final sprint as an elite group contested the finish, crossing the line ninth, 14 seconds back on a victorious Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Simon Gerrans was also to the fore and demonstrated an impressive turn of pace to win the bunch sprint for 11th place.
The Australian had been part of a large group that chased back on down the descent of the Alto de Jaizkibel after what had appeared to be a decisive move had formed ahead of the summit of the tough climb.
However the day belonged to Gilbert who took a superb solo victory after riding away from his rivals in the closing stages.
Belgian rider unleashed his attack on the flat run into Donostia with 3.5 kilometres remaining and pulled out a winning margin of 12 seconds on a group of elite contenders seemingly reluctant to bridge the gap.
Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) pushed clear going under the flamme rouge to secure second place while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) secured third from a bunch sprint two seconds further back.
The imposing climb of the Alto de Jaizkibel did not prove to be as selective as it had been believed with a group of roughly 30 riders arriving together at the foot of the final climb.
The win was just the latest in a career-best season for Gilbert, the Belgian further stamping his authority on the one-day classics to earn his 14th victory of the year.
A six-man break headed up the road after 12 kilometres to kick off a race, which at 234km, was one of the longest of the season
Unsurprisingly the riders began to fade on the first pass of the Alto de Jaizkibel, with six quickly becoming four among the escapees as the minutes began to tumble back to the bunch.
The move of the day was about to form as Gilbert kicked on the approach to the summit, dragging with him a catalogue of big names including Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas).
Surprisingly the motivated 15 men were reeled back in and the group swelled in numbers on the fast descent as a brave band of riders successfully chased back on.
Again there were a number of attacks on the flat section ahead of the day’s final climb, Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil) leading the way in a bid to time trial away from his rivals.
With a 30-strong group chasing, splits temporarily formed on run to Alto de Arkale, while with 18km Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma–Lotto) and Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) pushed on across to Devolder.
The elastic finally snapped and the group became significantly thinned out leaving 10 riders to contest the win on the run into the coastal resort, Gilbert proving strongest once again to comfortably see off his rivals.
After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was very happy with the way the team approached the race and was full of praise for the riders.
He said: “It was a good ride from Rigoberto today and also from Simon too. We had two good riders up there at the front which was nice. Rigo told me that he just missed some luck in the sprint but there were attacks and it was not easy. But he told me he feels happy. He has good form after the Tour.
“In the last few kilometres there were a lot of attacks so he had to be careful which wheels to follow. The last time he went over the Jaizkibel he was with the top riders. The group came back together and then he got into the next split.”
Portal was also full of praise for Gerrans, who out-kicked a number of top sprinters including Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) at the finish, adding: “I think Simon had a special focus for this race. He was very strong. Just at the end he did not have that bit of a jump to get into the top-10 riders. But he did well and it is good for the next race.
“Also John-Lee Augustyn had his first race of the year. He has come back off a big injury and an operation. For sure it was a hard race for him but he was happy and he helped the team for the first 150k, Davide Appolonio the same.
“Michael Barry was also strong. Really it was a good ride from everybody. San Sebastian is a big race. It’s a nice race but a hard race so it is a good result.”