Gilbert Runner-Up, Van Avermaet Taken Out At San Sebastian1. August 2015, San Sebastian (ESP) — Road Team
BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert took the sprint for runner-up honors Saturday at Clasica San Sebastian after teammate Greg Van Avermaet's bid for victory ended when an official race motorcycle crashed him out of the race.
Van Avermaet attacked on the last climb of the 219-kilometer race and had 15 seconds over his chasers with 600 meters to go when the "radio tour" moto ran into him from behind.
"It was a steep climb and the moto driver was too close to me," Van Avermaet said. "He ran right into the back of my bike. My frame was broken and my back wheel was broken. So the race was over for me. I don't know know what the moto driver was thinking. He did not say anything to me. Maybe he just gave it a little too much gas and ran into me."
While Van Avermaet was stopped, eventual race winner Adam Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) made his own attack. Yates held off Gilbert's chase group to win by 15 seconds. But he did not initially celebrate because he was unaware Van Avermaet had been forced to stop. Spanish national road champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) finished third.
"The bad thing is that I think I could have won the race," Van Avermaet said. "I had a big gap. Maybe Yates could have come back, but I think I still could have been there in the sprint. It is not every year you can win a classic like San Sebastian. So this is really disappointing.
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois called the incident between the moto and Van Avermaet "unacceptable."
"We are not at all happy with this," Ledanois said. "Greg had a good gap. If this does not happen, he wins the race and Philippe finishes second. No information was given on the radio about the crash, so we did not even know it had happened."
BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz also did not mince words when informed about the crash. Live TV coverage was interrupted by technical problems and did not show any of the incident.
"Where is the UCI in all of this?" Ochowicz asked, referring to the sport's governing body.
Gilbert's runner-up result was his second in four days. He was also second on the final stage of Tour de Wallonie Wednesday after winning Stage 3 on Monday. The incident with the moto was not the only strange part of the day, the past world road champion said.
"On the main climb of the day, we had Damiano Caruso in the break with 16 riders and I decided to bridge to this group," Gilbert said. "I was thinking this was a good move because everyone was pulling. But suddenly, everyone stopped pulling and the main group came back at the bottom of the last climb. The good thing is that I did not have to fight to be in a good position there because I was already in the front."
Gilbert credited another teammate, Samuel Sánchez, for helping him regain contact as small groups chased Yates on the downhill run-in to the finish.
"There was a small difference between the groups and I saw Samuel ahead," Gilbert said. "He told me before the race that if he was there in this situation, he would pull for me. So that was nice and he really helped me."
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