Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was unable to add a second Clasica San Sebastian victory to his palmares today as he finished 28 seconds in arrears of solo victor Tony Gallopin (RadioShack Leopard). The 33-year-old Spaniard sprinted in for second place from a five-man chase group ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff), Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Mikel Landa (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to earn a podium spot in his home country's biggest one-day race.
Valverde's teammate Nairo Quintana, fresh off his finishing second overall and claiming the mountains classification at the Tour de France, ripped the Clasica San Sebastian field to shreds on the final ascent of the Alto de Jaizkibel, but once the Colombian pulled off and dropped from the front group Valverde found himself without teammates in the 13-man selection.
Following the final climb, the Alto de Arkale, Valverde would join a five-man chase group behind solo leader Tony Gallopin in the company of two Saxo-Tinkoff riders plus two Euskaltel-Euskadi riders, a difficult tactical position.
"I was hopeful we could chase him (Gallopin) down, because we were getting closer and closer and even saw him on the final small climb in the city, but it was impossible. I was there with two Euskaltels and two Saxos and couldn't simply push more than them and burn myself," said Valverde.
"We have to be happy with this result, because we did the best we could to win, as well myself as the rest of the team. We knew we were the favourites - though it's even more difficult to show it when everyone is looking at you - and took charge of the pace into the bunch from the beginning.
"My teammates were phenomenal today. The strategy was making the race hard with Nairo into the second Jaizkibel climb to split the group and make it easy to control, and we succeeded. Kreuziger attacked on the final slopes [of the Jaizkibel], and even though I waited a bit to see how he went, I had to move with 1k remaining because he was too dangerous. I caught him on the downhill, but after that it was impossible to go after every single wheel, and Gallopin was gone."
One week after finishing eighth overall at the Tour de France, Valverde now turns his focus to a bit of recovery time before setting his sights on his home Grand Tour.
"Now it's time to take some days of rest, but not too much - I didn't really train hard this week," said Valverde. "It's time to think about the Vuelta."