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Clásica San Sebastián 2021 – Preview

SAN SEBASTIAN SPAIN AUGUST 03 Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team DeceuninckQuickStep Fans Public during the 39th Clsica Ciclista San Sebastin 2019 a 2273km race from DonostiaSan Sebastin to DonostiaSan Sebastin Klasikoa dklasikoa on August 03 2019 in San Sebastian Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took victory at the last edition of the race in 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Following the Tour de France and the Olympics road race and time trial, the road cycling season continues apace with another big event coming up on Saturday: the Clásica San Sebastián.

The one-day race, known as Donostiako Klasikoa in Basque, returns to the calendar after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's usually a chance for climbers and puncheurs to continue their good form from the Tour, as well as for those who are getting back to racing after a summer break.

With plenty of star names having raced in Tokyo, the start list is a little less high profile than in recent years, though there are plenty of worthy contenders set to do battle over the 231.5-kilometre course in and around San Sebastián.

2018 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is back following a stage win and a day in yellow at the Tour. He'll be joined on the start line by 2016 winner and fellow Tour stage winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). 

Tour podium finisher Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) are among the other contenders set to take part.

The contenders

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LUZ ARDIDEN FRANCE JULY 15 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep leads The Breakaway during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 18 a 1297km stage from Pau to Luz Ardiden 1715m LeTour TDF2021 on July 15 2021 in Luz Ardiden France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Julian Alaphiliippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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TOPSHOT Team Ineos rider Colombias Egan Bernal kisses the races Trofeo Senza Fine Endless Trophy as he celebrates on the podium after winning the Giro dItalia 2021 cycling race following the 21st and last stage on May 30 2021 in Milan Photo by Luca Bettini AFP Photo by LUCA BETTINIAFP via Getty Images

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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QUILLAN FRANCE JULY 10 Bauke Mollema of The Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo celebrates at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 14 a 1837km stage from Carcassonne to Quillan LeTour TDF2021 on July 10 2021 in Quillan France Photo by Chris GraythenGetty Images

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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SESTOLA ITALY MAY 11 Mikel Landa Meana of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious attacks on final climb Sestola 1020mduring the 104th Giro dItalia 2021 Stage 4 a 187km stage from Piacenza to Sestola 1020m girodiitalia Giro UCIworldtour on May 11 2021 in Sestola Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Dan Martin wins stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia to Sega di Ala

Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Alaphilippe is the major favourite heading into the race, having won it three years ago. He's well suited to the course, can win alone or sprinting from a small group, and should be in good form after the Tour. A strong Deceuninck-QuickStep team, including Zdenek Stybar and Mattia Cattaneo, will be supporting the world champion.

Unsurprisingly, Ineos Grenadiers bring what looks to be the strongest team. Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal returns to racing for the first time since his triumph and he'll be joined by Adam Yates and Dani Martínez, with all three heading for the Vuelta a España next month.

Trek-Segafredo bring a strong team, too, lining up with Vincenzo Nibali, Bauke Mollema and Giulio Ciccone straight from Tokyo. Jumbo-Visma are led by Tour de France runner-up Jonas Vingegaard, while Bora-Hansgrohe will look to Wilco Kelderman as well as Matteo Fabbro and Patrick Konrad.

Teenage Spanish prodigy Juan Ayuso rides his third race day for UAE Team Emirates, fresh off second place at the Prueba Vilafranca. He'll ride the longest race of his career so far, with Valerio Conti and Diego Ulissi alongside him.

As well as Ayuso, home hopes rest with Bahrain Victorious' Mikel Landa – joined by Mark Padun and Gino Mäder – and the Astana-Premier Tech pairing of Gorka Izagirre and 2012 winner Luis León Sánchez. Movistar are led by Miguel Angel López,

Other big names set to race include Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Jai Hindley (Team DSM).

The course

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Clasica San Sebastian route 2021

The profile of the 2021 Clásica San Sebastián (Image credit: Clasica San Sebastian)
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Clasica San Sebastian route 2021

The map of the 2021 Clásica San Sebastián (Image credit: Clasica San Sebastian)

The riders will do battle on a course slightly different to the one Remco Evenepoel soloed to victory on two years ago. Many of the same major climbs remain as they race around the north-east of the Basque Country.

After the peloton rolls out from San Sebastián, they'll tackle two uncategorised climbs inside the first 40 kilometres before the Alto de Azkarate (4.2km at 7.4 per cent) 60 kilometres in.

The Alto de Urraki (8.6km at 6.9 per cent) follows shortly after, before the Alto de Alkiza (4.5km at 5.8 per cent). Following that long opening loop to the west of San Sebastián, the route will take the riders north-east for 50 kilometres of rolling roads before the second loop of the day to the east of the city.

There, the famous Alto de Jaizkibel (7.9km at 5.5 per cent) lies in wait 63 kilometres from the finish – 28 kilometres closer than in 2019. An intermediate sprint at Hondarribia follows before the next, brutal, climb of the Alto de Erlaitz (3.9km at 10.6 per cent), 43 kilometres out.

What's left of the peloton will then pass through the finish line before tackling the closing loop to the west. The climb of the Alto de Murgil (2.1km at 10 per cent) is the final test of the day, with the Alto de Mendizorrotz not part of the closing circuit this year.

At the top of the Murgil, just 8.5 kilometres separates any attackers – or a small group – from victory.

Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working freelance at pretty much everywhere in cycling media for seven years.

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