Florencio flourishes on home soil

26th Clasica San Sebastian - ProT

Spain, August 12, 2006

ProTour standings

Bouygues Telecom rider surprises top favourites in taking career-best win

Spanish rider Xavier Florencio spent a lot of time in the Basque region as an amateur, riding many races here, but he admitted after today's Clásica San Sebastián that victory here was outside even his own high expectations. "If somebody told me this morning that I was going to win, I would have laughed," he told the media at the post-race press conference. Yet win he did, the 26 year old Bouygues Telecom rider unleashing a long but very powerful sprint to hold off 50 other riders on the flat, twisting finale down the Avenida de la Zurriola.

Florencio kicked for home with over 200 metres to go but in doing so was able to take the perfect – in other words, most direct – line along the curving run in to the line. Kazakh champion Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) was right on his wheel and looked set to come by, but despite a perfect leadout he couldn't match the Spaniard's raw strength. Neither could Italian rider Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas), who got by Kashechkin before the flag but could do nothing against Florencio, who romped home to take what was easily his biggest career win.

The Spanish rider has in the past achieved results such as 5th in both the Eneco Tour and the Tour of Valencia, as well as 18th in the Tour of Flanders plus 21st and 25th in editions of Milan San Remo, but nothing compared to what he did today. Even his recent good form in the Tour de L'Ain, where he was second on stage 1 and third overall, didn't give any real indication that he could top the podium in such a prestigious one day race. However the bunch contained plenty of strong riders who finished behind him, reflecting the power of his sprint and the quality of his win.

The vanquished include the likes of Garzelli and Kashechkin, as well as Mirko Celestino (Lampre, 6th), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, 8th), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel, 9th), Denis Menchov (Rabobank, 15th), Frank Schleck (CSC, 21st), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank, 28th), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth, 39th), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas, 40th), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner, 43rd), Carlos Sastre (CSC, 45th) and Iban M