Top level cycling returns this weekend with the 37th Clásica San Sebastián in Spain. This is traditionally a one day race for the climbers and puncheurs. Unusually, for a classics race it takes place on Saturday (29th July).
Clásica San Sebastián – Profile
The Clásica San Sebastián is a 231 km one day race starting and finishing in San Sebastián. The course features 8 climbs including one in the final 10 kms of the race. This has been won by the climbers/puncheurs in the past and looking at this years field that should continue in 2017.
The first half of the stage is the easiest. It features 3 climbs including the high point of the day but the climbs are fairly equally spread out. There follows a 40 km flattish section before the racing begins proper. The final 100 kms of the race open with a lap over two peaks (Alto de Jaizkibel and Alto Arkale) before the riders plunge head for San Sebastián. This circuit is repeated so the Alto de Jaizkibel and Alto Arkale are both climbed twice during the race! Look for the wearing down process to start on this second circuit.
At the end of lap 2 the riders head back into the mountains for a 16 kms loop. The loop features the last climb of the race – the Murgil, a 2.5 kms slope at 9% with ramps of up to 22%. In recent races the key moves have been made on this climb and riders have solo-ed or gone to the line in very small groups.
Clásica San Sebastián – Recent Winner
2011 – Philippe Gilbert – BEL – Omega-Pharma Lotto
2012 – Luis Leon Sanchez – ESP – Rabobank
2013 – Tony Gallopin – FRA – Radioshack-Leopard
2014 – Alejandro Valverde – ESP – Movistar
2015 – Adam Yates – GBR – Orica-GreenEDGE
2016 – Bauke Mollema – NED – Trek-Segafredo
This is the only one day classic race on ther UCI calendar in Spain – the home riders really push to do well here.
Clásica San Sebastián – Favourites
I’m don’t think two of the favourites have a serious chance of winning this race. They are more suited to the early season classics than the Clásica San Sebastián profile. I think it is too steep too often for Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) to stay with the leading group. If they are in touch at the final climb – the Murgil then they will be dropped here by the punchier climbing types.
GVA was 5th last year and his best position here was 3rd in 2011. His Tour de France form wasn’t great and I think this doesn’t bode well for him in this race. Gilbert won the race in his ‘golden year’ of 2011 and has finished 2nd in 2015 but he too had a poor TDF. In the bookies eyes GVA is 2nd favourite at 7.0 and Gilbert 5th favourite at 13.0. I would be reticent to back either.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in my view should be race favourite. He was brilliant in the early season hillier classics winning a couple. Then he was Mr Super Domestique in the mountains for Chris Froome at the TDF. The fact he was able to finish 2nd in the Time Trial on stage 20 of the TDF showed me that he still has excellent legs. This route is perfect for him. I thought that last year too and he finished 107th. This year his form is much, much better. He can be backed at 9.0 and I say go for it.
Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) won in 2013 and was combative at the TDF without really looking like winning a stage. I think he should be with the front group on the final 16 km loop but think he is too short at 11.0 (3rd favourite).
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) has a best place finish of 6th in this race in 2013. Like his team-mate he arrives here in brilliant form with a 4th place finish at the TDF. It is the TDF performance that has him as short as 13.0. For me I don’t feel Landa has the explosiveness in his climbing to win the race. On the final climb a rider or small group essentially sprint clear. Landa is more of a one paced climber.
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) is defending champion. Mollema’s TDF performance in 2017 was well down on the previous year but he did win a mountain stage from a break. He is as high as 17.0 here but I would prefer something in the 25.0 region to consider him for a bet.
Rigoberto Uran (Canondale-Drapac) was exceptional at the TDF finishing 2nd overall and winning a stage. He is priced at 17.0 here too and I think that is a decent reflection of his form. At those odds a small EW bet is a decent prospect of getting a return. My one concern – he likes to follow on climbs and not attack.
Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) was 7th last year and he too is coming off an excellent TDF winning the Young Rider’s White Jersey and finishing in the top 10 overall. His style translates really well to the course and I like his chances at 21.0.
Warren Barguil (Sunweb) broke through to the elite level at the TDF. He was excellent in the mountains winning the Polka Dot Jersey and two stages. His best result here was a 9th in 2015 but he is a better rider now. Like Yates odds of 21.0 represent excellent EW value. After his TDF results I think he will be closely marked here.
Clásica San Sebastián – Outsiders
This is a big group potentially so I will only do write ups on a few that I like.
Riders returning from injury
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) was 8th here in 2015 and his other classics results indicate he could very well win this race in the future. This is his first world level race on his journey back from injury and explains the odds of 26.0. If fit and healthy I would anticipate odds around 12.0. I can’t back him because I just don’t know how his recovery is going.
Miguel Ángel López (Astana) looked like a breakthrough rider in 2017. However, he broke his tibia late in 2016 ruining his offseason training. Then on his comeback he crashed heavily at the Tour du Suisse breaking his thumb. Like Alaphilippe, MAL looks to have the attributes to win this type of race. He is a punchy explosive climber. I just can’t see it happening this year although the odds at 41.0 look tempting.
These riders should be in the mix but I think a top 5 would be a solid result:
- Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) – odds 26.0;
- Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) – odds 23.0;
- Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) – odds 26.0;
- Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) – odds 26.0;
- Gianluca Brambilla (Quick-Step Floors) – odds 34.0;
- Sergio Henao (Team Sky) – odds 51.0;
- Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) – odds 81.0.
Of this group it is Nieve that looks the best value. Nieve was often the last domestique in the mountains for Froome and Landa at the TDF and has been 4th here twice (2013 & 2014). Odds of 81.0 have great EW potential.
Clásica San Sebastián – Tips
WON – Bet on Michal Kwiatkowski to win Clásica San Sebastián with a 1.0/10 stake EW (1/4 odds top 3) at 9.0 with Ladbrokes.
Back Simon Yates to win Clásica San Sebastián with a 1.0/10 stake (1/4 odds top 3) at 21.0 with Ladbrokes.
Bet on Warren Barguil to win Clásica San Sebastián with a 1.0/10 stake (1/4 odds top 3) at 21.0 with Ladbrokes.