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Neilson Powless wins Clásica San Sebastián in thrilling finale

Neilson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) defeated Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) and Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in a three-man sprint to win Clasicá Cicliste San Sebastián.

Along with Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), the three riders broke out of the peloton on the descent of Erlaitz, about 35km from the finish.

Despite being affected by a late crash on the run-in to the finish, which saw Rota distanced from the others, the leaders were able to avoid being caught by the small group of favourites in pursuit. 

It was an unusual race that did not play out as expected. With Honore up the road, Deceuninck-QuickStep did not chase for race favourite Julian Alaphilippe, leaving Trek-Segafredo to do most of the work instead.

The advantage of over one minute that Powless, Honore, Mohoric, Rota and Powless’ teammate Simon Carr (who had been caught by the group having earlier broken clear on the Erlaitz ascent) held by the bottom of the final climb of Murgil Tontorra and it proved too much for the peloton to bring back. 

After Carr was dropped on the climb, and Rota distanced after a crash on the run-in to the finish, Powless managed to win the three-man sprint in the finale. 

“I can’t even put into words how much this means to me,” said a delighted Powless at the finish.

“Our director Juan Manuel [Garate] was so excited for us to come to this race. We didn’t have the favourite for the race, so we tried to ride the race smart. In the end, we played our cards perfectly. I’m so happy.

“My first professional victory. I’m just so happy to have taken it here in San Sebastian with a director in the car who’s a local. Every time I’ve race through the Basque Country it’s been incredible with the fans, so I’m super-happy to win in front of such enthusiastic crowds.

There were multiple crashes throughout the day, which took place in wet, treacherous conditions. The most significant of these occurred on the run-in to the finish among the leaders. Mohoric misjudged a corner and had to unclip, which caused Honore to crash into a wall, and Rota to be taken down.

“I was watching the map on my Garmin,” explained Powless when asked about the incident. “I think the guys who were in front of me were maybe too focussed on the situation of the race and not so much the road. I could see it was a sharp corner coming up that they ended up crashing in. In the end I was just happy to keep upright, and stay as fresh as possible for the end.

Mohoric managed to catch back to him 2.3km from the finish, and then Honore less than a kilometre later, but Powless was strongest in the sprint to take victory.

How it unfolded

A large group of sixteen riders formed a breakaway at the start of the 2021 San Sebastian, featuring: Lilian Calmejane, Mikael Cherel (both Ag2r Citroen), Valerio Conti, Alexandr Riabushebko (both UAE Team Emirates), Johan Jacobs, Jose Joaquin Rojas (both Movistar), Javier Romo (Astana-Premier Tech), Jeremy Cabot (Total Energies), Jokin Murguialday, Jon Barrenetxea (both Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Tsgabu Grmay (BikeExchange), Oscar Cabedo, Daniel Navarro (both Burgos-BH), Xandres Vervloesem (Lotto-Soudal) and Romain Hardy (Arkea-Samsic).

This group remained clear over the early climbs of the day, with Bizkarra being first over Urraki, and Barrenetxea cresting the Alkiza first.

They were never given enough of a gap to have a chance of surviving, and by the foot of the famous Alto de Jaizkibel 70km from the finish, their lead was down to less than 1-30.

On Alto de Jaizkibel, Romo, Cabot, Vervloesem and Murguialday went clear from the rest of the break, before Romo shortly dropping the other three to become the sole leader of the race. 

Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers did most of the pace-setting in the peloton up the climb, wanting to make the race hard for their climbers. They began to pick up stragglers from the break, but Romo managed to increase his lead to up to 1:50 at the top.

The clouds darkened and the heavens opened as the riders went up the climb, making for a nervous descent on which both Yuriv Natarov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Omer Goldstein (Israel-StartUp Nation) crashed.

In typically aggressive fashion, two-time Tour de France stage winner Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) attacked on the descent, and caught the remaining half a dozen riders from the break who were behind Romo. Unwilling to let such a dangerous rider clear, the peloton promptly brought them back, meaning Romo was left as the sole rider out front. 

The wet weather continued to cause havoc when Wilco Kelderman and his two Bora-Hansgrohe teammates Matteo Fabbro and Giovanni Aleotti all went down on the slippery roads, along with one of the race motorbikes. 

Romo hit the start of the Erlaitz climb with a lead of 50 seconds, as Jumbo-Visma increased the pace at the front of the peloton on the run-in to the important climb. UAE Team Emirates and EF Education-Nippo took over at the front once the climb began, but it was Bahrain-Victorious’s Mikel Landa who made the first attack.

With Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo) on his wheel, Landa soon caught and passed Romo. But of the two new leaders, Carr proved much stronger, and he dropped Landa to crest the climb first.

Despite the severity of the climb, dozens of riders remained in the peloton by the top of the climb, and swelled to a bigger size as more caught up again on the descent. 

While Landa dropped back into the peloton, Carr continued to increase his lead on the descent, up to 45 seconds.

Mohoric, Honore and Rota all made their decisive move out of the peloton on the descent, with Powless marking the move for his EF Education-Nippo teammate Simon Carr. Despite the presence of Powless, they worked well together to chase down Carr, and caught him 23km from the finish.

With the five leaders holding a gap of about 50 seconds over the peloton, Trek-Segafredo’s Giulio Ciccone did a committed turn at the front of the peloton in service of his team leader, Bauke Mollema. He received no help from the team of the other race favourite, Julian Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck-QuickStep, as they had Honore up the road. 

Despite the efforts of Ciccone, his teammates and a UAE Team Emirates, the peloton struggled to reduce the gap to the leaders, which by the start of the final climb of Murgil Tontorra was over a minute.

There was another crash on a sharp corner leading up to the climb towards the front of the bunch, which might have disrupted and slowed down the chase.

In the break, Carr was dropped towards the start, prompting Powless to attack. Mohoric dragged him back with Honore on his wheel, and by the top the three were together, with Rota catching them soon after on the descent.

Ciccone attempted an attack out of the peloton on the climb, but neither him or anyone else from the peloton was able to catch up to the leaders, leaving Powless to take a surprise victory. 

Full results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 5:34:31
2Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
3Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
4Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:00:30
5Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:04
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
7Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
8Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
9Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
10Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
11Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
12Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Soudal
13Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain Victorious
14Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
15Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:08
16Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:09
17Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:36
18Juan Ayuso Pesquera (Spa) Team Colpack Ballan
19Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
20Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
21Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis
22Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
23Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM
24Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
25Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Team BikeExchange
26Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM 0:01:39
27Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
28Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:02:02
29Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation 0:02:51
30James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
31Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:59
32Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
33Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
34Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
35Héctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
36Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal 0:04:23
37Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
38Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:26
39Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
40Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
41Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
42Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
43Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
44Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
45Urko Berrade Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
46Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:04:49
47Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:04:54
48Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis 0:05:00
49Jaakko Hänninen (Fin) AG2R Citroën Team
50Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:05:20
51David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:41
52Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Team BikeExchange 0:05:56
53Stephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:06:38
54Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers 0:06:41
55Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
56Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
57Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:07:23
58Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:09:24
59Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Burgos-BH
60Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroën Team
61José Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
62Jon Agirre Egaña (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
63Jose Felix Parra Cuerda (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
64Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar Team
65Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
66Fernando Barceló Aragon (Spa) Cofidis
67Ibai Azurmendi Sagastibeltza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
68William Barta (USA) EF Education-Nippo
69Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
70Victor de la Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie
71Santiago Buitrago Sanchez (Col) Bahrain Victorious
72Kevin Colleoni (Ita) Team BikeExchange
73Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:09:41
74Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
75Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
76Alexander Cataford (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
77Lars van den Berg (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
78Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
79Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
80Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo 0:10:22
81Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:10:55
82Sebastian Berwick (Aus) Israel Start-up Nation
83Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:11:29
84Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:12:27
85Victor Langellotti (Mon) Burgos-BH 0:14:06
86Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Arkea-Samsic
87Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
88Winner Anacona (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
89Romain Hardy (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
90Kevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM
91Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
92Yuriy Natarov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
93Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
94Valentin Ferron (Fra) Total Direct Energie
95Javier Romo Oliver (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
96Jokin Murguialday (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
97Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
98Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
99Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
100Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma 0:15:26
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFJosef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFZdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFFrançois Bidard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFLilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFMikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFDamien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFValerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFAleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
DNFMatteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFNikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
DNFAlexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFAntonio Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
DNFCharlie Quarterman (GBr) Trek-Segafredo
DNFGiovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMatteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFPatrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFWilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFPatrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFIde Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJohan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
DNFAlessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFOmer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFGuy Niv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFAlexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFClément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFJonathan Caicedo (Ecu) EF Education-Nippo
DNFJulien El Fares (Fra) EF Education-Nippo
DNFAndrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFDaniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFJeremy Cabot (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFMarlon Gaillard (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFFabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFFlorian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFJulien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFKevin Inkelaar (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
DNFDomen Novak (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
DNFSander Armée (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFCarlos Barbero (Spa) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFBert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFConnor Brown (NZl) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFDylan Sunderland (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFTsgabu Grmay (Eth) Team BikeExchange
DNFAndré Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eri) Cofidis
DNFAritz Bagües Kalparsoro (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
DNFJon Irisarri Ricon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
DNFJon Barrenetxea Golzarri (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
DNFMikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFMikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFJoan Bou Company (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFXabier Mikel Azparren Irurzun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFJonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFRomain Combaud (Fra) Team DSM
DNFChad Haga (USA) Team DSM
DNFNicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
DNFIlan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
DNFDaniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Burgos-BH
DNFWillem Jakobus Smit (RSA) Burgos-BH
DNFAlex Molenaar (Ned) Burgos-BH
DNFOscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos-BH
DNFPelayo Sanchez Mayo (Spa) Burgos-BH
DNFFilippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal
DNFMatthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
DNFXandres Vervloesem (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMiguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFMatis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFAlan Riou (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFRaul Garcia Pierna (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
DNFSavva Novikov (Rus) Equipo Kern Pharma
DNFJordi Lopez Caravaca (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma

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