Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Aug 02, 2014 – Spain’s Alejandro Valverde bounced back from his Tour de France disappointment by winning Saturday’s Clasica de San Sebastian.
The 34-year-old Movistar rider, who finished fourth at last month’s Tour after being pushed off the podium in the final mountain stage, finished 14sec ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollema and Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez and Mikel Nieve.
Last year’s winner of the 219.2km race over undulating terrain along the Basque coastline, Frenchman Tony Gallopin, was fifth at 26sec. It was Valverde’s second victory in the one-day race having triumphed in 2008. He made his move on the descent of the Bordako Tontorra climb in the final 7km. He had crested the short but brutal second category ascent — 2.5km at a 20 percent average gradient — alongside Rodriguez. But the Katusha rider, known as Purito, could not keep up with Valverde’s descending skills.
“Purito told me we were going too fast and I regulated the speed on the descent so as not to lose my rhythm,” said Valverde. “Now we’ll enjoy the victory.”
Valverde is next expected to ride in the Vuelta a Espana, which begins in three weeks. The Spaniard’s task was helped by two of his main rivals abandoning during the race amid suffocating heat. Belgian Ardennes Classics specialist Philippe Gilbert quit after 76km, with three-time Tour green jersey winner Peter Sagan climbing off his bike shortly afterwards.
Basque rider Amtes Txurruka had made the lone breakaway of the race, holding a lead of almost seven minutes at one stage but with 60km left he had been reeled in.
On the final Bordako Tontorra climb, Ukrainian Andriy Grivko opened up a 30sec lead but he was swept up before the summit. Once Valverde got clear on the descent, he arrived into San Sebastian’s winding, narrow streets on his own, and there was no catching the 2009 Vuelta winner.
The hilly Classic includes former Tour winner Miguel Indurain, former world champion Paolo Bettini and Ardennes Classics specialist Philippe Gilbert amongst its past champions.