The WorldTour one-day races will resume at the Clásica Ciclista San Sebastián on Saturday where Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde will line up as the top ranked rider in the series and the defending champion, with a goal of winning his third title. It won’t be an easy feat, however, as the race will showcase a strong field of competitors including his compatriot Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Valverde and Rodriguez will arrive to the one-day race having recently completed the Tour de France. Valverde placed third overall behind winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) and his own teammate Nairo Quintana, while Rodriguez showed top form by winning two stages; on the punchy climb to Huy and on the Plateau de Beille.
In addition, both riders are well-suited for the Clásica San Sebastián’s challenging 220km parcours that includes the category 1 Alto de Jaizkebel followed by the category 2 Alto de Arkale, which the peloton will contest twice. The race will also finish with the climb up Bordako Tontorra, a nine per cent gradient that summits just seven kilometres from the finish line.
Valverde is a proven winner on the circuit having topped the podium in 2008 and in 2014, where he soloed to the victory on the same course. Riders who do well in the Ardennes Classics are generally tipped to race well in San Sebsastian, and Valverde is a three-time winner of both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne, most recently winning both races this spring.
Movistar for Clásica San Sebastián: Alejandro Valverde, Winner Anacona, Giovanni Visconti, Rory Sutherland, Jesús Herrada, Javi Moreno, Rubén Fernández and José Joaquín Rojas.
Katusha lines up for Rodriguez
Rodriguez is also a proven rider in the Ardennes having been a top contender at La Flèche Wallonne over the years with a win in 2012 and multiple podium finishes. He is also fresh off a recent win during stage 3 at the Tour de France on the Mur de Huy.
There are nine WorldTour events remaining this season and Valverde has a healthy lead with 482 points, while Froome is in third with 422 points and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) with 407. Froome and Contador won’t be racing Clásica San Sebastián, the latter pulled out due to illness, but further down the list are a series of riders who could win the race including Rodriguez in sixth place with 292 points, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) is in eighth with 274, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is 12th with 249 and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) in 19th.
Not to be discounted are former winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), former two-time winner Luis Léon Sánchez (Astana), runner-up last year Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), who could also thwart Valverde's and Rodriguez’s quests for victory.
Katusha for Clásica San Sebastián: Joaquim Rodriguez, Pavel Kochetkov, Daniel Moreno, Tiago Machado, Egor Silin, Simon Špilak, Iurii Trofimov and Angel Vicioso.