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Clásica San Sebastián 2014

 Clasica San Sebastian! It is back to action with the next Classic!

 There is lots of climbing on tap today as the serious racing action returns. 

 With 82km to go, Amets Txurruka of Caja Rural has 3 minutes on the field.

Txurruka took off after only 27 km and has been in front solo since then. He had a gap of up to 6:45.

 

At least two big names are no longer in the race today. Both Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) have already abandoned.

 

There are six ranked climbs on tap today, three each cat.2 and cat.1. Five of the climbs come in the second half of the race.

 

69km remaining from 219km

The gap is now at 2:13.

 

The defending champion is here today, too. Tony Gallopin won this race for RadioShack-Nissan last year. He now rides for Lotto Belisol.

 

The course has changed this year, with the addition of a 15km city circuit in the finale. 

 

61km remaining from 219km

The gap has dropped rapidly now, down to 1:05. Txurruka is now heading up the Jaizkabel climb.

 

The race started this morning at 11:30. Several groups tried to form and get away before Txurruka was successful.

 

Only 5 seconds now, the break is nearly over.

 

And with 60.4km to go, Txurruka has been swallowed up by the peloton.

 

Movistar is leading the peloton -- which makes sense of course, as the only Spanish WorldTour team.

 

Sagan was Cannondale's captain in this race, but they wisely also sent in Allesandro De Marchi as a back-up. 

 

Speaking of De Marchi, he will be riding for BMC next year. 

 

A Team Sky rider has opened a small gap on the field. It is Lopez Garcia.

 

Lopez Garcia has about 15 seconds on the field, and he keeps looking back to see if anyone will join him, or where they might be.

 

Three more riders have joined him now. And one of them is De Marchi.

 

 One km to the top of this climb.

The foursome had  a gap of about 26 seconds at the top of the Jaizkabel.

 

These four are: Lopez Garcia (Sky), Visconti (Movistar), De Marchi (Cannondale) and Montaguti (AG2R).

 

The riders are no doubt very happy to have lovely sunshine today, and no rain.

 

Three riders have given chase and are 11 seconds behind. We are still waiting on the field...

 

48km remaining from 219km

42 seconds for the peloton, which is being led by Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

 

We apologize for not having the names of the three chasers. 

 

The three are nearly at the front, so we ought to be able to get their names now. 

 

43km remaining from 219km

The three newcomers are Laurens ten Dam (Belkin), Alberto Losada (Katusha) and Jan Bakelandts (OPQS). 

 

If this group can work together, it could well stay away to the end.

 

39km remaining from 219km

The peloton must have agreed with us that this break group is dangerous. They have now brought the gap down to 32 seconds.

 

Remember the Tour de France? That big race that dominated everything for three weeks last month? Well  in case you have forgotten, or just want to take a good look back, take a peek at our photo gallery here. 

 

Trek and Orica-GreenEdge are leading the chase.

 

3km remaining from 219km

The seven leaders are going up an unranked climb, taking with them a gap of only 12 seconds. 

 

Gerrans and Albasini are the two Orica-GreenEdge riders at the head of the field.

 

The lead group has been caught.  We now have eight riders with the peloton only seconds behind them. 

 

It looks like everyone is together again. 

 

31km to go and the peloton is flying along in single file.

 

Did we say flying along? We meant it! They are going 74km/h!

 

Andriy Grivko of Astana attacks. 

 

With 25km to go, Grivko is still holding on to his lead. 

 

He has 16 seconds now. 

 

21km remaining from 219km

Grivko rode the Tour de France in support of overall winner Vincenzo Nibali. Now he is looking for his own chance. His gap is inching up, now at 38 seconds.

 

Movistar has moved back to the head of the chasing field, which has become much smaller.

 

The gap is coming dow,now only 17 seconds. 

 

The beach is full on this lovely summer day, as the peloton flies by.

 

Grovko crosses the finish line for the first time, and sets out on the closing circuit course. The field follows him some 11 seconds later.

 

They have Grivko in their sights now, and it won't be much longer until he is caught.

 

He is caught with 14.2 km to go. Can we look for a mass sprint finish here?

Orica-GreenEdge puling the long, spread-out field along. 

 

11 km to go, and one more climb. 

 

9km remaining from 219km

AS they head up a 9% section of this final climb AG2R has moved to take over th elead work. And an attack by a Katusha rider! It is Kolobnev.

 

Kolobnev has 15 seconds already.

 

Nieve is giving chase and has nearly caught the leader.  Now he is on. 

 

The Sky rider in fact goes right on by. More and more riders are now moving up, and Kolobnev is falling back. 

 

Rodriguez is now alone in the lead. The Tour didn't turn out as he wanted and he is looking to make up for that. 

 

Valverde has caught Rodriguez. Nieve and Albasini are chasing. 

 

We now hear it is Yates and not Albasini.

 

6km to go, by the way. We doubt the action is over!

 

We now have a lead group of Valverde, Rodriguez, Mollema, Nieve and A. Yates, with 4.2km to go.

 

Yates has crashed, and Valverde is alone in the lead. 

 

With 3 km to go, Valverde has a lead on Mollema, Rodriguez and Nieve. 

 

Valverde has 9 seconds. He too is looking to atone for an unsatisfactory Tour de France. 

 

This just in, from our Dan Benson: Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff Saxo) has been provisionally suspended UCI Anti-doping Commission.  

 We will have more later. 

Valverde has this one wrapped up. The only question is who will be second and third.

 

He raises his arms in victory as he takes the win. Molllema wins the sprint for second, with Rodriguez taking third. 

 

This is Valverde's second victory in this race, having previously won it in 2008.

 

Mollema and Rodriguez crossed the finish line 14 seconds behind Valverde.

 

Our top seven today:

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team

2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:14

3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha

4 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky

5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol 0:00:26

6 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol

7 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing

 

Thanks for joining us today! Hope you enjoyed that dramatic ending as much as we did.

 

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