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Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian
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Written by Wicky (2005-03-01 00:00)
Translated by DZI (2006-02-10 00:00:00)

The San Sebastian classic is one of the newer classics on the ProTour circuit. This one-day race was only born in 1981. In the beginning, mostly Spanish riders show up at the start of this race. They would use the race as their final preparation for the World’s, twenty days later in Prague.

At the first edition, it was the young Basque Marino Lejarreta who went away with the flowers. Soon, Lejarreta would be the fans favourite rider in cyclingmad Basque country. He starts to perform well in not just this race but also in the Grand Tours. He managed to get top 10 placings in the GT’s, and actually managed to finish all three Grand Tours in one year! Until now, Lejarreta is the recordholder with three wins in San Sebastian.

At the Spanish northwest-coast, just below the border to France, the riders cross the Basque country over a distance of 230 kilometres. The Jaizkibel is the “executioner” in the clasica. In earlier editions the Jaizkibel was sceduled quite early in the race, so the organiseres changed this in 1990. Now the peloton has to face the difficult mountain only thirty kilometres before the finish in San Sebastian and have to climb up 420 metres inside nine kilometres of track at the Basque coastal line.

The Basque newspaper “El Diario Vasco” is responsible for organising the “Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian”, as the race is officially called. The race became a Worldcup event in 1988, because their lucky scedulling in the month of august was a “cycling void” in the calendar. But also the recognisable route through cycling loving Basque country has made this one-day race into a deserved classic race. In 2006 the UCI changes the planning of a few races. Now the HEW Cyclassics in Germany takes the old Clasica-spot on the calendar, this race being ridden somewhat later and can now be viewed as a preparation to the Vuelta a España or Tour of Benelux.

Because of that change in the cycling calendar this isn’t the first race after the Tour de France anymore. Up to 2005, most riders that were good in the Tour, also stood a good chance of winning here. The San Sebastian classic has quite a few big names on its palmares, despite the relative short history. Former multiple Tour de France winners have also won this race. Miguel “Big Mig” Indurain in his early career doing the double, and Lance Armstrong being the last big Tour champion to win here, but this was before his immaculate era in France.

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