Etixx – Quick-Step to Clasica San Sebastian
First World Tour one-day race of the summer will see a strong team, with many cards to play, line up at the start.
This year, San Sebastian is the European Capital of Culture, and among the hundreds of events which it stages, there's also the Clasica San Sebastian, one of the most beautiful one-day races of the season. Charming as the city itself, the event barely knows a meter of flat, as it's a constant up-and-down affair over the pitoresque and ever-so-fascinating climbs of the region, including Jaizkibel and Arkale, whose names hide an alluring musicality resembling the one of the fantastic creatures in Basque mythology.
Jaizkibel (7.8 km, 5.8%) and Arkale (2.7 km, 6.3%) will both feature twice on the course and will lead to several selections in the peloton, which should count just a dozen riders by the time it will hit the foot of Murgil Bidea, the final ascent, which replaces Bordako Tontorra, the climb that featured at the past two editions. Although shorter – 1 800 meters – Murgil Bidea is by no means a walk in the park, as it averages 10.5%, ramping up to 20% in some sections. Only 8 kilometers separate Murgil Bidea's summit off San Sebastian's Reina Regente boulevard, where the race will end, thus making for a very open and thrilling finale.
Etixx – Quick-Step will not be short of options in the 220.2-km long Spanish race, which this year runs its 36th edition. Fresh off the Tour de France, where he claimed his maiden top 10, Dan Martin will be one of the riders to watch out for, in a race which last season he concluded in 7th place. Bob Jungels, the revelation of the Giro d'Italia, will also be making his return to Clasica San Sebastian, which he discovered for the first time three years ago.
Gianluca Brambilla – who in 2016 has enjoyed his best season to date, with two victories and a stint in the coveted maglia rosa – will be another important card of the team, which will be rounded out by David De La Cruz, Laurens De Plus, Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar and Petr Vakoč, another rider who has recently completed the Tour de France, a notable result considering this was his debut in cycling's biggest race.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele