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Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian - San Sebastian 2010

Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of this year's Clasica San Sebastian, the first major race since the Tour de France.

This year's race has attracted a quality field and covers a new hillier route. The Alto de Jaizkibel is still the decisive climb of the race but is covered twice, as is the Alto di Arkale climb. 

The early action in the race saw Pierre Cazaux (Franciase des Jeux),Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia) and Xavier Florencio (Cervelo TestTeam), the winner in 2006 go clear and open an eight-minute lead.  

After 120km, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) retired but the main field still included rider of the calibre of Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia), Samuel Sanxhez (Eiskaltel-Eiskadi) and 2009 winner Carlos Barredo (Quick Step). 

On the first time over the Jaizkibel, Cazaux slipped back as the lead of the break melted in the sun. Over the top, Florencio and Montenegro were joined Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Ivan Gutiérrez and Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank). The main peloton is just 40 seconds behind.

54km remaining from 234km

The riders have now just crossed the top of the Arkale climb and the trio of Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Ivan Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank) are now clear. 

HTC-Columbia and Cervelo TesTeam riders are leading the chase. But there is still another climb of the Jaizkibel and the Arkale before the finish.

The lead of the trio is gradually coming down as the race passes through the town of Lezo, east of San Sebastian. There is just a few kilometres of flat road and then the race heads back up the Jaizkabel.

45km remaining from 234km

The peloton is already down to around 80 riders, with the heat and the tough roads taking their toll.

The peloton is letting the break of three hang out front. Nobody wants to show their hand too early.

44km remaining from 234km

Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Ivan Gutiérrez and Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank) are on the lower slopes of the Jaizkabel. As Omega-Pharma-Lotto lead the peloton behind. The Belgian team is riding for Philippe Gilbert today. 

The Jaizkabel is 7.8km long and climbs at an average of 5.84%. However it includes sections at 7.5%, especially early on.

The first rider to jump away from the peloton is Alexandre Kolobnev (Kastusha). He's been joined by Ritchie Porte (Saxo Bank), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and others.  

2009 winner Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) is also in the selection, as the trio up front are caught. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) is also there, using his excellent Tour de France form. 

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Eiskadi) is now on the front, dragging this high-quality selection clear. With him are Vino, Rodriguez and Nicholas Roche (ag2r-La Mondiale). The other riders are just a few metres behind but this is hurting.

Ritche Porte (Saxo Bank) is going across to the front but is struggling a little as the road climbs out of the trees.

39km remaining from 234km

At the top of the Jaizkabel approaches, a group of five riders have a slight advantage: Vinokourov, Roche, Sastre, Sanchez, Rodriguez. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is leading the chase, about 20 seconds behind.

The strongest riders are now emerging at the front.

37km remaining from 234km

Robert Gesink (Rabobank) has dragged five chasers across to the leading five but Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) jumps away. Is he just going for the summit prize or is he strongest enough to win the race?

Sanchez is first under the Jaizkabel banner but only has an eight-second lead on Vino, and Sastre. Eight other chasers are a further ten seconds back.

34km remaining from 234km

Vino ans Sastre can see Sanchez and the eight can see them. They will surely all come back together on the spectacular descent to the finish in San Sebastian.

32km remaining from 234km

Vino and Sastre have now caught Sanchez. They have a 20 second lead on the chasers.

30km remaining from 234km

The descent is fast through the trees and the gap has grown slightly but there is still the final climb of the Arkale before the finish. 

Vino is doing a big turn on the front but the gap is still 20 seconds and the chasers can see the trio up the road.

Carlos Sastre is also doing a big turn. He needs a result after a disappointing Tour de France.

Behind the chasers are also working smoothly, coming through to do their turn on the front. Gesink, Hesjedal, Roche, Sanchez and Rodriguez are all their. 

25km remaining from 234km

Also in the move are Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) and Javier Moreno (Andalucia) but the gap is now 38 seconds. Have they let them get too much of a gap?

23km remaining from 234km

What is left of the main field is 1:40 behind but the gap of the three on the chasers is still growing as the Arkale climb approaches.

21km remaining from 234km

Quick Step is leading the peloton for Barredo but they seem to have missed the move of the race. The peloton is now at 1:35.

20km remaining from 234km

At the head of the race, the trio take on a last bottle before the Arkale climb. The gap is still 40 seconds.

The Arkale climb is only 2.7km long but climbs at 6.30% and is only 15km from the finish.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is a tough trio to pull back and they seem to have run out of energy behind as the Arkale climb starts.
 

Sastre leads the trio, while Gesink leads the chasers.

17km remaining from 234km

Gesink is still leading the chase, with his jersey wide open and blowing in the wind as usual. Up front Vino is doing big turns too.

Gesink has got tired of doing all the work and has accelerated off the front of the chase group. Roche is in his slipstream, with Rodriguez behind him. But Hesjedal is closing the gap.

Over the top of the Arkale, the trio of Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) have a 23-second gap on the chasers
 

12km remaining from 234km

The descent towards the finish is fast and so it is difficult to see how the chasers can pull back time. It will be a pursuit match all the way to the finish between the three leaders and the six chasers.

10km remaining from 234km

Ritchie Porte (Saxo Bank) is also back in the chase group. But the gap is still 25 seconds.

Vino keeps going to the front whenever the road kicks up a little. The trio are working well together but must be thinking of their finish strategy. Vino and Luis Leon Sanchez perhaps think they can win in a sprint but Sastre will surely have to try an attack. 

7km remaining from 234km

The gaps is down to 21 seconds now a Porte helps in the chase. This is going to be very close.

6km remaining from 234km

The riders are approaching San Sebastian now. The final kilometre follows the beach with the finish in the centre of the old town.

5km remaining from 234km

The chasers seem to have blown it. Nobody wants to really commit and close the gap. The trio is just 20 seconds up the road but must be getting more and more confident of success.

4km remaining from 234km

The gap is rising again. It is now 25 seconds.

3km remaining from 234km

Vino attacks! Luis Leon Sanchez goes after him but Sastre is struggling.

2km remaining from 234km

Vino went hard on a slight rise under the trees. It was a clever move but Sanchez had the power to get across to him. They know they have to work together. Although the gap is now 30 seconds to the chasers. Sastre is somewhere in the middle.

1km remaining from 234km

Final kilometre. Who is faster? Vino or Luis Leon Sanchez? But they are starting to play games.

Sastre is back on. It's a three-rider sprint.

Vino has been forced to lead it out.

Vino tried to out power them but Luis Leon Sanchez came through along the barriers to win. Sastre was third.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) adds his name to the roll of honour of the Clasica San Sebastian. The classy Spaniard rode a clever race, letting Vino do a lot of the work and then out smarting him in the finale.

Brief results:

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
2. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
3. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) at same time
4. Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) at 34
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at 37 seconds
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) at 37
 

Brief results:

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
2. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
3. Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) at same time
4. Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) at 34
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at 37 seconds
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) at 37
 

As the crowds head back to the spectacular beaches in San Sebastian and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) gets ready to put on the winner's traditional Basque hat on the podium, we'll say goodbye and end our live coverage. 

See next time for more live coverage of the biggest races in the sport.

Situation:

Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).

At 20 seconds:
Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Nicholas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack), Ritchie Porte (Saxo Bank)

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