Brambilla comes 6th in San Sebastian
Making his return to racing after a one-month break, the Italian finished in the top 10 at his first participation in the World Tour race.
Despite having a hilly terrain, jammed with climbs which could have sparked an intense fight for victory, Clasica San Sebastian (220 km) was again decided inside the final 10 kilometers, on the last ascent of the day. If in the past two years it was Bordako Tortorra, now everything was played on Murgil Bidea, a new addition to the event, averaging 10.5% over 1 800 meters. So obvious it was for everybody there's little chance for having a different scenario, that the break was reeled in with more than 30 kilometers remaining and the race continued with a long procession until the bottom of the double-digit gradient climb.
With the peloton seriously stretched out at that point, Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) attacked and got a small gap, before being caught by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The Spaniard surged clear, but 500 meters from the top was joined by Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Alejandro Valverde Movistar) and the quartet crested the summit with a 10-second advantage over a chasing group which included Gianluca Brambilla, who was racing for the first time after coming runner-up at the National Championships, in Boario Terme, one month ago.
Just before the descent started, Mollema accelerated and took off, soloing to the finish in San Sebastian, with a comfortable lead over Gallopin and Valverde, who rounded out the podium of the 36th edition. The second chasing group rolled over the line half a minute behind and Gianluca Brambilla battled for a place in the top 10, his strong sprint helping him finish 6th, a result which is made even more impressive by the fact this was the 28-year-old Italian's debut in the prestigious Spanish event.
"I was a bit nervous at the start of the race, because I didn't know what my condition was after more than a month without racing. Fortunately, any doubt went away right after the start, as I felt my legs were strong. Before the last climb I tried to be in a good position, but it was hard to keep the pace with the riders coming off the Tour de France, who had a different speed. Considering I didn't race for more than a month, I am satisfied with my result and I am looking forward to the next events I'll do in August", said Gianluca, who has two wins and 11 top-10 placings in 2016, his best year since turning pro.
Besides Brambilla, also Dan Martin notched up a good result, concluding Clasica San Sebastian in 12th place. Following Saturday's World Tour appointment, Etixx – Quick-Step – the team with the most victories this season, 39 – has solidified its top 5 place in the World Tour standings. Next appointment of our outfit will be RideLondon Classic (July 31), followed by Vuelta a Burgos (August 2-6).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele