Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) bounced back after a disappointing end to his Tour de France by winning the Clasica San Sebastian. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) finished 2nd and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) placed 3rd.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started the Basque World Tour classic off with positive intent as Jacques Janse van Rensburg joined 5 other riders in the early break of the day. Janse van Rensburg and co. were able to ride away from the peloton, building their lead up to a maximum advantage of 6 minutes.
It was a difficult course with a lot of climbing, the type of terrain suited to Janse van Rensburg. While 2 riders dropped from the break with 65km to go, our South African pushed on in the lead group as the peloton also began to shed riders. With Orica-BikeExchange, Movistar and Katusha all assisting with the chase, the breakaway was caught with 45km left to race.
The peloton, which was down to around 60 riders heading into the final 2 climbs of the stage, contained 5 riders from our African Team. Janse van Rensburg was still hanging tough while Serge Pauwels, Igor Anton, Merhawi Kudus and Kanstantsin Siutsou were all part of the select peloton too.
As the penultimate climb began, Pauwels found himself in a front split of around 8 riders as they tried to go clear. Unfortunately that move was neutralised before the end of the climb. On the run in toward the final climb Anton attacked, only to be shut down almost immediately. The race would come down to the final climb which peaked with 8km left to race.
Orica-BikeExchange drove the pace into the final 2km climb on a tight, twisty forested road and positioning before the climb was crucial, this is where our African Team riders were caught out somewhat. Mollema, Gallopin, Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) crested the climb first. Mollema then reacted by attacking before the descent even began. His crafty move paid off as he would not be seen again by the 3 chasers.
Jens Zemke – Sport Director
The Clasica Donostia had the “who is who” on the startlist today so it was not easy for us to achieve a top result. We were able to have Jacques Janse van Rensburg representing us in the breakaway but the bunch did not give them much space. Jacques rode a fantastic race and he was even giving Moreno Moser a run for his money in the GPM sprints. In the final hour of the race, Jacques was joined by Serge, Igor, Kosta and Merhawi. Igor tried a solo attack with 20km to go but he was caught immediately. The final climb was super steep and the bunch shattered into pieces here. Serge ended up being our best placed rider in 27th and 1 minute behind Bauke Mollema. This race will be one we will put in the memory bank for its huge crowds and electric atmosphere, and we were happy to be part of the action. We send our fair compliments to Mollema from Trek on his win.