A week after completing the 100th Tour de France, Tony Gallopin (RadioShack Leopard) put his good form to use at the Clásica San Sebastián and rode himself onto the top step of the podium with a perfectly timed attack in the final 15km. Gallopin jumped away from the lead group on the day's final climb, the Alto de Arkale, and would not be seen again. For the 25-year-old Gallopin it was the biggest win in his career and made him only the third Frenchman to win the Spanish one-day Classic.
"I gave everything with the plan to see where I would be on the top of the Arkale," said Gallopin. "I was alone, so I decided to go for it alone till the end. This is nice for me after a season with illness or mechanical problems at bad moments. This is a nice start of something new. Not that I will ask to be a leader now. I will not change. The team can continue to count on me.
"I was so tired after the Tour de France and even disappointed because I couldn't win a stage," added Gallopin. "But this morning I immediately knew that I had super good legs. I like the one-day races but this is the first time I've done this race so it was really new for me. But I'm so happy. To be here on the podium with [Alejandro] Valverde and [Roman] Kreuziger means a lot to me."
The 232km race in San Sebastián featured plenty of horsepower from the Tour de France with 66 Tour finishers taking the start, including 14 from the top 20 and seven from the top 10. Runner-up Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who took the sprint for second place 28 seconds after Gallopin, finished eight overall in the Tour while Kreuziger placed fifth on general classification in Paris.
Gallopin made the decisive 13-rider selection that formed on the final ascent of the Alto de Jaizkibel and was the second rider over the top behind Kreuziger.
"I already felt good on the Jaizkibel and then on the Arkale I could feel I was still good," said Gallopin. "As I knew [teammate] Bob Jungels was coming back I didn't dare attack but Alain [Gallopin] gave me the green light."
"Tony told me he had good legs on the Arkale so I told him to go," said RadioShack Leopard directeur sportif Alain Gallopin, Tony's uncle. "Tony was probably the smartest guy as he didn't waste his forces on the first climb of the Jaizkibel. Yesterday when we arrived from the airport we did a recon of that climb with Tony behind my car and he liked it. It was at that point he already showed his motivation."
The winner of the Clasica San Sebastián is presented with the Basque beret, the txapela, on the podium and Gallopin had some timely advice from a teammate the previous evening.
"Last night at dinner my teammate Markel Irizar explained in detail to all of us about Basque habits and how to put the txapela on our head in case of victory," said Gallopin. "We were prepared!
2013 marks Gallopin's fifth season as a professional, with today's victory the fourth in his career and his first for RadioShack Leopard, his team for 2012-2013. This year he earned the bronze medal at the French road championships behind Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) plus provided support for teammate Fabian Cancellara in his Spring Classics wins.
Tony grew up in the world of cycling and is the nephew of team director Alain Gallopin and son of former Tour de France rider Joël Gallopin. In 2011 he was fêted as Coupe de France Champion following in the footsteps of some famous winners of the season-long competition, including Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert. In 2008 he won the French U23 time trial championships in addition to the U23 Paris-Tours.