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Mellow Velo

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Edition 39 of the Clásica de San Sebastián is held this Saturday. The hilly classic in the Basque Country dates back to 1981. The race is marked by steep ascent in the mountains of the Basque Country. The finale features the Murgil climb – 2.1 kilometres at 10.1% – before a flying descent into San Sebastián.



Last year, Julian Alaphilippe and Bauke Mollema forced a crucial selection on the short and sharp Murgil. They reached the summit together to plunge down to the line, where the Frenchman outsprinted the Dutch rider.



The first part of the 2019 route is a carbon copy of last year’s. The first climb is the Meage, which is crested at kilometre 27. The 3.5 kilometres uphill at 3.4% is perfect to stretch the legs before the route continues to the Alto Iturburu. The 6.6 kilometres climb at 5.3% leads to the highest point of the Clásica de San Sebastián at an elevation of merely 550 metres.



Next up is the Alkiza, a 4.4 kilometres climb at 6.2% with its summit at kilometre 78.9.



A calm phase in the race precedes the Alto de Jaizkibel. The 6.9 kilometres long climb at 6.2% is a regular on the Clásica de San Sebastián. The first 3 kilometres are steepest before the climb flattens out towards the top.



Approximately 10 kilometres after the descent of the Jaizkibel the riders tackle the 13 kilometres long Erlaitz. The first and last part and nothing special, but the heart of the ascent is something else entirely: 3.8 kilometres at 10.6%.



The riders descent into San Sebastián for the first passage on the line with 40 kilometres remaining. Still two ascents to go, both with insane gradients. First the Mendizorrotz. The two hardest kilometre slope at 11.3% before the climbs continues on a section of 2 kilometres at 4.5%.



Probably, the Clásica de San Sebastián comes down to the steep ramps of the Murgil’s climb. As it did since the wall-like obstacle was included in 2014. The Murgil Tontorra, as the Basks say, has an average slope of 10.1% and the length is 2.1 kilometres. The steepest ramps of the Clásica de San Sebastián’s last climb are 22%.



Only 7.3 kilometres remaining at the top. First a false flat and then a technical descent into San Sebastián before the last 3 kilometres are played out on the wide and flat boulevards along the coast.

Favourites 2019 Clásica de San Sebastián

:*:*:*:*:* Simon Yates, Julian Alaphilippe, Egan Bernal
:*:*:*:* Greg Van Avermaet, Mikel Landa, Adam Yates
:*:*:* Alejandro Valverde, Bauke Mollema, Michael Woods
:*:* Gregor Mühlberger, Tadej Pogacar, Rigoberto Uran, Daniel Martin
:* David Gaudu, Tony Gallopin, Giulio Ciccone, Tim Wellens
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  • "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.

    Mellow Velo

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     Ultimately, the race turned out to be both disappointing and fascinating in equal measure.
    Disappointing in the sense that so many top riders turned up, just to fill up the team rosters, then either dropped out or sat up at various points.
    Fascinating in that GVA is only 5 years short of the combined aged of his podium companions.
     
     Toms Skujiņš initiated the race winning attack, as he was soon joined by the young phenomenon, Remco Evenepoel, with about 25kms to go.
     Movistar having played most of their cards early, were unable to hold the pair and the gap slowly grew.
    Astana took a late token turn on the front, but the two arrived on the climb with a handy lead. The Latvian lost the Belgian's wheel when the road began to rear up.
     Meanwhile, the bunch made a few half hearted attacks, that did little to close the gap, to the extent that the winner was known at the summit.
     So overall, a bit of an "end of term" race and yet it's only the start of August.


     
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  • Echoes

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    History is being made, I guess. In 10 years, I believe that many journos or so will refer to this day as "this is where it all began", though reference might be made to his U23 achievements or the Tour of Belgium and the Italian race he's just won.


    In the Sporza live coverage, the commentator referred to Georges Ronsse winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège at age 19 in 1925 but that edition of Liège-Bastogne was strictly reserved to the so-called "indépendants" (at that time, amateur riders who could race with pros). So nothing to compare to Remco's achievement today.

    Of course Henri Cornet won the Tour of France at age 19 (19 years 11 months 20 days) after the disqualification of several top riders in 1904.

    Remco Evenepoel is 19 years 6 months and 9 days (if I calculate correctly).

    As a teen, Merckx wuld just win a kermess in Vilvoorde on 11 May 1965 (was born on 17 May 1945). He won Milan-Sanremo at age 20. At that age Albert Champion is the youngest winner of Paris-Roubaix and Karel Kaers the youngest World Champion. 

    Rik Van Steenbergen is the best example I have in mind. Tour of Flanders winner at age 19 years 7 months 24 days (if I calculate correctly) in 1944 and was already Belgian champion (road race but also on the track) and winner of the Championship of Flanders, both in 1943. The Koolskamp race he won 7 days after his 19th birthday and the nats he won one month and one day before! Of course this was all done during the war, so when the field was weaker.

    If I'm not mistaken, Gerald Ciolek was German champion at age 18.


    Glad to see that Greg Van Avermaet is still there though. He definitely should have won that race back in 2015. Here he just got his best result in the race. Just a great rider for Remco to beat!
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  • "Paris-Roubaix is the biggest cycling race in the world, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than any other bike race" (Sir Bradley Wiggins)

    Joelsim

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      • Music To Your Ears
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    Just watched the race, WTAF!
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  • Echoes

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    Also just realised that Remco is the first ever Dutch-speaking Belgian winner of the Clasica San Sebastian :angel, since the late Claude Criquielion and Philippe Gilbert are/were both Walloons. Though Remco is still from nearby Brussels and is rather fluent in French, so not from the Flemish heartland, it's still apparent when he speaks French that Dutch is his mother tongue (but his French is very good)!
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