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Strong field to line up in San Sebastian

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Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo)

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A happy Andy Schleck (Leopard - Trek)

A happy Andy Schleck (Leopard - Trek) (Image credit: Sirotti)

Next weekend’s Clásica de San Sebastián looks set to feature many of the big names who have lit up the Tour de France, including the Schleck brothers, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd and Samuel Sánchez. The 31st edition of Spain’s leading one-day race takes place on July 30.

The race was officially presented on Friday in San Sebastián. Jaime Ugarte, president of Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi that organises both the San Sebastián race and April’s Tour of the Basque Country, admitted that the event had been affected by the economic crisis that has had a particularly severe impact in Spain. But he said he is hopeful that the race will continue to hold its place among cycling’s leading events on the World Tour calendar.

"We hope that the crisis is lessening, that sponsors will start to return, and that companies will find a way out of the delicate situation that many of them currently find themselves in so that we can continue to offer those in the Basque Country and San Sebastián the presence of the best cyclists in the world. The fans here in the Basque Country certainly deserve that," said Ugarte.

Ugarte’s organising team spent two days at the Tour de France when the race was in the Pyrenees. They presented dossiers to the media and also encouraged teams to bring their best riders to the event. That work appears to have paid off impressively.

The Rabobank team of defending San Sebastián champion Luis León Sánchez looks particularly strong. It features three-time world champion Oscar Freire, 2009 San Sebastián victor Carlos Barredo, plus Dutch climbers Robert Gesink and Laurens Ten Dam. Lampre’s line-up will be led by Tour contender Damiano Cunego, while Sky field Rigoberto Urán and Juan Antonio Flecha in their eight-man line-up.

The race will also see the return of a number of big-name riders who missed the Tour. Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez will step up his preparation for August’s Vuelta a España in San Sebastián. Geox team leaders Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre, who was third in San Sebastián last year, will also be on the start line.