Quick-Step Floors Team to Clasica San Sebastian
Dan Martin, who was coming off the back of a very solid Tour de France, will miss the race due to injury.
A city with a tumultuous and fascinating history, which goes back to the 12th century, San Sebastian left behind the years when it was renowned as a much-needed seaport and military stronghold, and after a makeover which began in the second half of the 19th century, it became one of Europe most popular holiday destinations, and at the same time, the host of one of the most spectacular one-day races of the cycling calendar, the Clasica San Sebastian, whose history traces back to 1981, when Marino Lejarreta won the inaugural edition.
At first glance, the 37th edition will be harder than the one of last year, as it's longer (231 kilometers) and will see the peloton take on more climbs, but in truth it should once again come down to the Jaizkibel – Arkale combo, set to be done twice, and the leg-sapping Murgil Tontorra, the 1900m-long climb averaging 10.2%, whose summit will be crested just eight kilometers from the finish, where the riders will arrive after a fast technical descent followed by a short flat section.
Philippe Gilbert will headline World Tour leader Quick-Step Floors' roster for the Spanish classic. The Belgian won here in 2011 and finished runner-up at his most recent participation, in 2015, and is now ready to resume racing after a viral gastroenteritis forced him to abandon the Tour de France in the last week.
"It's my first race since the Tour de France, so it's hard to say where I am, especially as I had to pull out of the Tour due to illness. San Sebastian is always an important race, and of course I would like to do good, but it is difficult to say where I stand. I think my body is feeling better and I'm looking forward to racing again and to test the waters, but I'll be able to say more after the race", said Philippe, who so far this season has landed five wins in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, including Ronde van Vlaanderen and Amstel Gold Race.
Joining Gilbert for Saturday's race will be Gianluca Brambilla, Eros Capecchi, David De La Cruz – winner of a Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage in San Sebastian earlier this year – Dries Devenyns, neo-pro Enric Mas (who'll race his ninth World Tour event of the season), Pieter Serry and Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar.
Dan Martin was also supposed to race San Sebastian, but after a medical examination revealed two small transverse process fracture to the L2 and L3 vertebrae, he will be sidelined for the next three weeks, during which the 30-year-old Irishman will need to rest and recover before returning to action.
"During the Tour I didn't have any problems when racing, but off the bike I wasn't feeling very comfortable, so this week I did a scan and got the news. It's a real pity I won't ride San Sebastian, because the legs were there and it's a race I like, but fortunately this injury isn't something to worry about. In order to tackle my future goals in good condition, it's better to take a break and give the fracture time to heal. There's nothing else I can do, just rest and then build up for the final part of the season", said Dan, who concluded the Tour de France in sixth overall, his best ever Grand Tour result.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele