Luis Leon Sanchez wins three-rider sprint

Caisse d'Epargne rider beats Vino and Sastre

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) secured the biggest one-day victory of his career and no doubt boosted his contract negotiations for 2011 with a classy victory in the Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday, as the professional peloton got back to serious racing a week after the Tour de France.

Sanchez won the 2009 Paris-Nice but has seemed undecided whether he would focus on one-day classics or stage races. However he showed he has the qualities to win a Classic with a confident display on the new, hillier course of the Clasica that included climbing the Jaizkibel and the Arkale twice in the final 100km.

Sanchez was the first to attack on the second passage of the Jaizkibel summit and he quickly got a gap. Only Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) had the strength to get across to him and they held off the chasers to fight for victory.

Vinokourov looked the strongest but Sanchez cleverly forced him to lead out the sprint and had the speed to go past him in the final hundred metres. Sastre finished third in their slipstream as Sanchez celebrated his win.

With Caisse d'Epargne set to end their sponsorship this year and no new sponsors on the horizon, Sanchez has been linked to the Rabobank team. He refused to talk about his future immediately after winning, but his victory will surely have secured his future and made him a future contender for the Ardennes classics and shorter stage races like Paris-Nice.

"It's nice to win such an important race on such a demanding and long course, the new route made the race much tougher and more selective. " Sanchez said.

"The key moment of the race was over the Jaizkibel, that's when the move formed and the race was virtually decided. I found the strength to pull hard with Sastre and Vinokourov and we stay away. Vino showed he had very good legs and I had to hold on hard to make sure he didn't get away on that last little climb. But I managed it."

"Although I didn’t have a great race, I finished the Tour de France in good shape. This victory is a reward for good work of the team and motivates me for the rest of the season,"

Big names back to racing

After a week of criteriums and celebrations, most of the big names of cycling gathered in San Sebastian for Spain's only major one-day classic.

While thousands of people sunbathed on the beaches, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 2009 winner Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and a host of other Tour de France riders set off for the new 234km route. The Jaizkibel climb once again would shape the race but this year the nasty 7.8km climb would be covered twice. I t was bound to make a difference and make it difficult for riders who had not ridden the Tour de France like Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) to get a result.

The early break was created by three riders when Xavier Florencio (Cervelo TestTeam), Pierre Cazaux (Francaise des Jeux) and Jorge Martín Montenegro (Andalucía) went away. They were quickly allowed to open a big lead, with the gap touching eight minutes on the long loop south of San Sebastian. After 120km Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulled out of the race. His team said he crashed but he later said he did not. Whatever the cause, Schleck's race was over.

Up front the trio's lead melted in the heat on the Jaizkibel and Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), Spanish national champion Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) powered across to them.

On the Arkale the three left the early breakaways behind but they were to be quickly caught on the second time up the Jaizkibel. First to up the pace and go after them was Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) and Richie Porte (Saxo Bank). Both looked good but perhaps showed their inexperience on the climb and were soon overtaken when the racing began in earnest.

Local hero Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) made a more serious move and got the cheers from the crowd before Vinokourov then took charge on the front as the road left the trees.

The Astana captain caused the major selection on the Jaizkibel and of the race, with only ten riders managing to hang on and stay in contention. These includes Luis Leon Sanchez and Samuel Sanchez, Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Porte.

Near the top of the Jaizkibel, Luis Leon Sanchez surged clear and the group split again, with Vino and Sastre the only ones able to hold the gap to eight seconds. They quickly caught him but the others missed a key chance. The rest formed a chase group but started their pursuit after the descent with a handicap of 40 seconds and a clear lack of hunger to get back in the race.

Up front Vino, Sastre and Luis Leon Sanchez all did smooth turns, while behind some riders were playing smart and hoping others would close the gap. On the Arkale climb Gesink did a lot of the chasing but when he got tired of working for everyone else, and jumped away, he was quickly chased down. The finish was only 15km away but the three up front seemed destined to fight for victory. The steady descent to the old centre of San Sebastian helped the three breakaways. The gap came down a little but they still had 20 seconds with five kilometres to go.

Sastre seemed happy to finish on the podium and looked tired but Vino wanted to win and tried to jump away on a short climb heading into town. He got a gap and powered on but Luis Leon Sanchez dug deep and managed to get on his back wheel over the top. The race would be decided in a sprint.

Sastre managed to get back on as Vino and Sanchez played games inside the final kilometre but he would not be a contender. Cleverly Sanchez forced Vino to stay on the front. The Kazakh tried to lead out the sprint in the final two hundred metres but then opened the door to the Spaniard by moving to the centre of the road. Sanchez powered through near the barriers to win by a bike length.

"I am really happy to achieve this podium after all the bad luck I’ve had this season,” Sastre said. “Two trips over the Jaizkibel makes this race a lot more realistic for me and I had good sensations throughout the race. The team did a great job to protect me in the first passage over the Jaizkibel. The legs responded when they needed to. I had some cramps in the final kilometers, but I am very satisfied.”

Vino was second and Sastre third, with veteran Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) sneaking away from the chasers to get fourth at 34 seconds. Rodriguez won the sprint for fifth at 37 seconds ahead of Hesjedal, Gesink and Roche but all the chasers knew they had missed a chance of victory. Only Sanchez got to smile while wearing the Basque Txapela hat.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne5:47:13 
2Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana  
3Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
4Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Team Radioshack0:00:34 
5Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:37 
6Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions  
7Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank  
8Nicholas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
9Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
10Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank  
11Greg Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:02:14 
12Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step  
13Chris Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
14Javier Moreno (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
15Eros Capecchi (Ita) Footon-Servetto0:03:43 
16Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram  
17Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
18José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
19Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
20André Steensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
21Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
22Christophe Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
23David García (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
24Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
25Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
26Morris Possoni (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
27Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step  
28Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha  
29Daniel Moreno (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
30Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
31Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
32Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
33Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo  
34Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
35David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
36Gustavo César (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
37Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
38Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack  
39Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team  
40Alberto Benítez (Spa) Footon-Servetto0:07:28 
41Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia  
42Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
43Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
44Marcos Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
45Jurgen De Walle (Bel) Quick Step  
46Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha  
47Ángel Gómez J. (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
48Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
49David La Fuente (Spa) Astana  
50Stefan Denifl (Aut) Cervelo Test Team  
51David López (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
52Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux0:09:01 
53Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram0:09:44 
54Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank  
55Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
56Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank  
57Angel Vicioso (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur  
58David Gutierrez (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
59Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Astana  
60Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale  
61Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha  
62Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
63Markel Irizar (Spa) Team Radioshack  
64Tejay Garderen (USA) Team HTC - Columbia  
65Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
66Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
67Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:09:47 
68Gonzalo Rabuñal (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia0:11:59 
69José Luis Rubiera (Spa) Team Radioshack  
70Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
71Alan Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
72Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana  
73Iñigo Cuesta (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
74José Luis Arrieta (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale  
75Delio Fernandez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
76Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
77Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
78Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
79Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
80Arthur Vichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux  
81John-Lee Augustyn (RSA) Sky Professional Cycling Team  
82Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo  
83Pedro Merino (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
84Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step  
85Laurens Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
86Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur0:17:18 
87Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
88Fabio Felline (Ita) Footon-Servetto  
89Josep Jufré (Spa) Astana  
90Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia  
91Serafín Martínez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia  
92Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
93Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Transitions  
Alto de Orio - Zudugarai (3ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Antonio Piedra (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur3 pts
2Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia2 
3Arthur Vichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux1 
Alto de Gárate (2ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française Des Jeux6 pts
2Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur4 
3Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team2 
4Antonio Cabello (Spa) Andalucia - Cajasur1 
Alto de Jaizkibel (1ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team10 pts
2Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur8 
3José Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne6 
4Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank4 
5Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi2 
6Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma - Lotto1 
Alto de Arkale (2ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank6 pts
2Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi4 
3José Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne2 
4Stefan Denifl Cervelo Test Team 1  
Alto de Jaizkibel (1ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne10 pts
2Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team8 
3Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana6 
4Nicholas Roche (Irl) AG2R - La Mondiale4 
5Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank2 
6Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha1 
Alto de Arkale (2ª)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana6 pts
2Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne4 
3Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team2 
4Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank1 
Sprint - Azpeitia
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur3 pts
2Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team2 
3Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française Des Jeux1 
Sprint - Andoain
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur3 pts
2Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Française Des Jeux2 
3Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team1 
Sprint - Irun
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur3 pts
2Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervelo Test Team2 
3Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank1 
Sprint - Oiartzun
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank3 pts
2José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne2 
3Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1 
Sprint - Irun
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana3 pts
2Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne2 
3Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team1 
Sprint - Oiartzun
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team3 pts
2Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana2 
3Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne1 
Mountains classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne14 pts
2Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana12 
3Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur12 
4Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank10 
5Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team10 
6José Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne8 
7Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi6 
8Nicholas Roche (Irl) AG2R - La Mondiale4 
9Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank2 
10Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia2 
11Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha1 
12Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank1 
13Stefan Denifl Cervelo Test Team 1  
14Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma - Lotto1 
15Arthur Vichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux1 
Sprint classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia - Cajasur9 pts
2Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana5 
3Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team4 
4Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank4 
5Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne3 
6José Iván Gutierrez (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne2 
7Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1 
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Team Saxo Bank17:28:13 
2Caisse d'Epargne0:00:52 
3Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:29 
4Xacobeo Galicia0:04:35 
5Cervelo Test Team0:04:37 
6Team Katusha0:05:14 
7Omega Pharma-Lotto0:06:51 
8Quick Step  
9Team Radioshack0:07:27 
11Andalucia - Cajasur0:12:52 
14AG2R La Mondiale0:15:46 
15Sky Professional Cycling Team0:16:36 
16Française Des Jeux0:18:09 
17Lampre-Farnese Vini0:18:52 
19Team HTC - Columbia0:27:56 


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