TechPowered By

More tech

Gilbert's stunning season continues with San Sebastian victory

By:
Barry Ryan

2009 champion Barredo holds off Van Avermaet for second

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his Clasica San Sebastian victory.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his Clasica San Sebastian victory.

view thumbnail gallery

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) continued his magical 2011 season with a resounding victory in the Clasica San Sebastian ahead of Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

Always a stylish performer, Gilbert has attained a level of dominance rarely seen in one-day racing over the past twelve months, and there was a certain degree of inevitability about his victory on a baking hot afternoon in the Basque Country.

In a fractious finale that saw the lead group splinter and reform on numerous occasions after the sweeping descent of the Jaizkibel, Gilbert showed typical sangfroid to bring order to the chaos on the final run-in to San Sebastian, with the help of teammate Jelle Vanendert.

A little over 3km from the line, Carlos Barredo was dangling off the front of the lead group but nobody was willing to take the initiative to close the gap, and it was at that moment that Gilbert sensed his opportunity. On the unclassified rise of the Alto Miracruz on the outskirts of San Sebastian, the Belgian champion ripped free of his companions and instantly closed the 10-second gap to Barredo.

On reaching the Rabobank man’s wheel, Gilbert didn’t even pause for breath, and simply jumped over the top of Barredo to solo clear to an emphatic win. While a group of strong men including Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) chased behind, they must have realised the futility of their pursuit when faced with Gilbert’s rich vintage of 2011 form.

In barely a kilometre, Gilbert had opened out an insurmountable lead, and as was the case in the Ardennes Classics in the spring, he had time to sit up in the finishing straight and enjoy his victory, the latest offering from the most productive period of the Belgian master’s career.

The plucky Barredo clipped off the front of the chase group to come home in second place 12 seconds down, while Gilbert’s local rival Van Avermaet held off Rodriguez, Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) and Schleck in the sprint for the third step on the podium.

How it unfolded

With two ascensions of the Jaizkibel on the menu in the afternoon, the big hitters were always likely to keep their powder dry in the early exchanges, and there was a relatively tranquil start to proceedings in San Sebastian. After 12km, the day’s early break formed, with Irish champion Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) forging clear in the company of Murilo Fischer (Garmin-Cervélo), Karsten Kroon (BMC), Klaas Lodewyck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Eloy Ruiz (Andalucia Caja Rural) and Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Caja Rural).

The sextet enjoyed a smooth collaboration and stretched their lead to a maximum of 10 minutes over an unconcerned peloton before Euskaltel-Euskadi began to peg them back on the approach to the first climb of the Jaizkibel with 80km to race.

On the slopes of the climb, Brammeier and Ruiz lost contact, while the gap began to tumble behind, and by the time they tackled the Jaizkibel for the second time with 40km to go, Kroon and Fischer were the sole survivors and their lead was inside two minutes.

Samuel Sanchez was the first of the big favourites to show his hand with a searing attack on the Jaizkibel that brought him up to the leaders. Barredo was quick to follow, before a short acceleration from Gilbert saw a group of 15 riders form on the front approaching the summit. Another dig from Sanchez over the top saw him briefly sally clear with Devenyns and Vanendert, but the strength in depth of the group behind meant that they wouldn’t get far.

In spite of those pyrotechnics, the Jaizkibel did not prove as decisive as expected. After the sweeping descent, there were still no fewer than 30 riders at the head of the race, with Damiano Cunego the only notable absentee. The Italian was surprisingly dropped after his Lampre-ISD team had been prominent in chasing the early break and he never succeeded in getting back on.

Passing through Irun and sensing a certain disorganisation in the lead group, Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) punched clear with 24km to go, and he had 30 seconds in hand at the foot of the final climb, the short and sharp Arkale. The deceptively tough slopes would take their toll, however, and his gap shrank accordingly.

It was at this point that Gilbert played his first card, sending his teammate Vanendert up the road in the company of Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack), which allowed him the luxury of sitting in the wheels while the chase arranged itself behind. Vanendert and Zubeldia crossed the summit of the climb in front, but they were reeled back in shortly afterwards thanks to the efforts of Sanchez and Rodriguez.

Their pursuit saw what would be the winning break come together over the top of the Arkale, as a 10-man group featuring Gilbert, Schleck and Van Avermaet formed on the descent. In the finale, it was Barredo who opted to risk all with a clever attack 7km from the line, and for a moment it appeared as though the canny Spaniard was going to capitalise on a lack of collaboration in a leading group replete with on-form big names.

The illusion quickly evaporated, however. With a little over 4km to go as the road began to rise slightly, Fränk Schleck turned and looked to Gilbert to contribute to the chase. Barely 500 metres later, the Belgian was alone in front and the race was over. As simple as that.

Full Results
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5:48:52  
2 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:12  
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:14  
4 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team    
5 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
6 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek    
7 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack    
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
9 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling    
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:50  
11 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:02:05  
12 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
13 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team    
14 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
15 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
16 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
17 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC    
18 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team    
19 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
20 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
21 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
22 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
23 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale    
24 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard    
25 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
26 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team    
27 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
28 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team    
29 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
30 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:02:08  
31 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
32 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha Team    
33 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC    
34 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
35 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:36  
36 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Procycling 0:04:16  
37 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Pro Team Astana    
38 Antonio Piedra Perez (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada    
39 Joost Van Leijen (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
40 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:27  
41 José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural 0:05:04  
42 Sergio Pardilla Belllón (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:31  
43 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:06:33  
44 Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad    
45 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
46 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Geox-TMC    
47 Jesús Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
48 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
49 Vicente David Bernabeu Armengol (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada    
50 Stefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard Trek    
51 Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural    
52 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling    
53 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
54 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
55 Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
56 Yuriy Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team    
57 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team    
58 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:09:08  
59 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Pro Team Astana    
60 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
61 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
62 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
63 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana    
64 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShack    
65 Fabio Felline (Ita) Geox-TMC    
66 Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
67 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
68 Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack    
69 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
70 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
71 Adrián Palomares Villaplana (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada    
Mountain 1 - Alto Orio - Zudugarai (Cat. 3) 19km
1 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 3 pts
2 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 2  
3 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 1  
Mountain 2 - Alto Garate (Cat. 2) 29.4km
1 Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada 6 pts
2 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 4  
3 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 2  
4 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 1  
Mountain 3 - Alto de Jaizkibel (Cat. 1) 156.2km
1 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 10 pts
2 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 8  
3 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 6  
4 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 4  
5 Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada 2  
6 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 1  
Mountain 4 - Alto de Arkale (Cat. 2) 179km
1 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 6 pts
2 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 4  
3 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 2  
4 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 1  
Mountain 5 - Alto de Jaizkibel (Cat. 1) 196.2km
1 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 10 pts
2 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 8  
3 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 6  
4 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 4  
5 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 2  
6 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 1  
Mountain 6 - Alto de Arkale (Cat. 2) 219km
1 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6 pts
2 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 4  
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 2  
4 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 1  
Mountains classification
1 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 23 pts
2 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 14  
3 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 10  
4 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 10  
5 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 10  
6 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 9  
7 Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada 8  
8 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 6  
9 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 5  
10 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 4  
11 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 3  
12 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 2  
13 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 2  
14 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 1  
Sprint 1 - Azpeitia, 50km
1 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 3 pts
2 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 2  
3 Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada 1  
Sprint 2 - Andoain, 116km
1 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 3 pts
2 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 2  
3 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 1  
Sprint 3 - Irun, 168.5km
1 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 3 pts
2 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 2  
3 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 1  
Sprint 4 - Oiartzun, 183.4km
1 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3 pts
2 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 2  
3 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 1  
Sprint 5 - Irun, 208.5km
1 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3 pts
2 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 2  
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 1  
Sprint 6 - Oiartzun, 223.4km
1 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 3 pts
2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2  
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 1  
Sprint classification
1 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad 6 pts
2 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team 5  
3 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5  
4 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 4  
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 3  
6 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3  
7 Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Spa) Caja Rural 3  
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2  
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 2  
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 1  
11 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 1  
12 Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Spa) Andalucia Caja Granada 1  
Teams classification
1 Rabobank Cycling Team 17:30:58  
2 Katusha Team 0:00:02  
3 Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:33  
4 Sky Procycling 0:02:13  
5 Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:04:04  
6 BMC Racing Team 0:04:30  
7 Leopard Trek 0:04:33  
8 Movistar Team 0:05:22  
9 Lampre - ISD 0:06:21  
10 Geox TMC 0:06:24  
11 Liquigas - Cannondale    
12 Team Garmin - Cervelo 0:08:56  
13 AG2R - La Mondiale    
14 Team RadioShack 0:11:33  
15 Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:14:08  
16 Pro Team Astana 0:15:35  
17 Andalucia - Caja Granada