Van Avermaet Sprints to Fourth at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian4. August 2018, San Sebastian (ESP) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet secured his third consecutive top ten finish at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian today after digging deep when the attacks began on the final climb before sprinting to fourth on the line.
A six-rider breakaway went clear in the opening kilometers of the 228.7km course and steadily began to build up an advantage over the first of 8 categorized climbs which edged over the seven-minute mark after 40km of racing.
The gap between the leaders and the peloton, where all seven BMC Racing Team riders sat, went on to peak at 7’45” and continued to hover around that time for the next 40km before the main bunch started to regain control.
By the time the race reached the top of the first of two ascents of the category one Jaizkibel climb, with 95km to go, the leaders had been pulled back to 2’40” and in the end, the final rider from the early breakaway was able to hold off the catch for another 57km.
With the race coming back together inside 38km to go, new attacks began to fly off the front of the reduced bunch but they were all neutralized approaching the 20km to go mark before a crash, which BMC Racing Team was able to avoid, saw the group unfortunately whittled down further.
Van Avermaet was led into the bottom of the final short but sharp climb, the 1.8km long Murgil Tontorra which had an average gradient of 11.3%, by a strong Michael Schär and it was on the steepest section of this climb that the race exploded with various attacks forcing small group to form going over the top with just over 7km to go.
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were sitting out in front on the fast run into the finish line with Van Avermaet working hard in the first chasing group around 30 seconds back.
The leading duo was able to hold onto their advantage in the closing moments of the day with Alaphilippe taking the win ahead of Mollema while Van Avermaet remained in the thick of the action during another tough finale to sprint to fourth on the line.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
"I think today's race was pretty good for me. Everything went well right up to the bottom of the last climb. We were able to save as much energy as possible and then, I tried to give it a good go there. I was actually feeling really good. Today was the first time that I have come over the top of the final climb in the first five and I was even really close to Mollema and Alaphilippe. I think I surprised myself that I could be as good on this parcours as I was today. In previous years I was maybe 15th at the top of the climb and was able to make a good result because I was able to catch riders on the descent, however, today, it was the other way around."
"We made a good effort to try and catch the two leaders. I tried to do a good sprint and today would have been perfect if I had finished third but I think I was just a little bit too late. Fourth was a good result though and I was feeling really good all day. I am happy with my form coming out of this race and I am now looking forward to the UCI European Championships. It's a good parcours for me and hopefully, I can keep this condition going into it.
Sports Director, Allan Peiper:
"The conditions were really hard today. It was around 30 degrees in San Sebastian and even higher than that inland and I think the heat made the race even more testing than the long parcours. As a team, we were fully focused around Greg Van Avermaet and we used our resources wisely at the start with Patrick Bevin, Miles Scotson, and Fran Ventoso doing a lot of early work. Going over the top of the Jaizkibel for the second time, we still had Greg, Miles and Michael Schär in the main group. Miles did a good job for the guys into the last category three climb and then it was Michi who did a great job leading Greg into the base of the final climb."
"Greg started in a really good position inside the top ten and then Mollema and Alaphilippe went. We counted around a seven-second deficit at the top and a couple of guys then came back to Greg and he was chasing with them but the front two already had a good enough lead. Greg did a great job to sprint to fourth place and from a team perspective, with the depth of talent here, we can be happy with our performance. I'm sure Greg would have liked to have had the win but he is realistic in his chances. He said yesterday that it is nearly impossible to win this year for him and so, finishing fourth means that he was close to doing the impossible so I think that's a good outcome."
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian
One-day race: San Sebastian > San Sebastian, 228.7km
Top 3: 1. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 3. Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 4. Greg Van Avermaet 57. Michal Schär 68. Miles Scotson