Sterling seventh for Simon Yates at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian

Sat 30 Jul 2016

Clasica de Ordizia winner Simon Yates finished in seventh place for ORICA-BikeExchange at the challenging Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian today as attacks flew on the final climb.

Yates was part of the elite selection made on the final climb before the finish that saw Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) jump clear of the group and hold on for a solo victory.

23-year-old Yates rode a controlled race before excellent work by ORICA-BikeExchange teammate Luke Durbridge led the peloton into the tough finale with Yates following the attacks and sprinting to seventh place.

Sport director Neil Stephens praised the work of the team on what was a long and difficult day.

“As always it was a tough race today,” said Stephens. “The whole team did a great job throughout. From start to finish we were up there and maintained our good positions right until the end.”

“Simon (Yates) did very, very well on the last climb. It was a strong selection and considering Simon has not had much racing lately he fought hard and finished strongly.

“It's not easy competing in a race like this when you are missing that extra punch that you don't get from training. A lot of our guys and most of the field were coming from the Tour de France and despite the tiredness we looked good.

“I am satisfied with how we went. Michael Albasini was in the mix until the final climb steepened and Simon is just missing a little more racing, but it looks really positive for the races that we have coming up.”

How it happened:

The 220km race began under cloudy skies with six riders including Moreno Moser (Cannondale) attacking straight out of the neutral zone and forming the day's early breakaway.

After 40kilometres of racing the seven riders had over six minutes advantage over the peloton that was being led by ORICA-BikeExchange and Movistar.

The situation remained the same over the first two climbs with the gap to the leaders still at six minutes after 80kilometres.

As the race hit the first ascent of the Alto de Jaizkibel with 100kilometres to go, the six escapees saw their advantage slip to around three minutes with Astana and Team-Sky now dictating the tempo.

Over the top of the climb the gap was down to one-minute 40seconds as the now four leaders began the descent with the peloton strung out in the chase behind them.

The breakaway was finally caught with 60kilometres to go with Mikel Landa (Team-Sky) leading a counter attack that absorbed the Moser group. Around 30seconds now separated the eight riders at the front of the race from the peloton.

The peloton re-formed inside the final 40kilometres with around eighty riders making up the bunch.

The tension was building as ORICA-BikeExchange, with Durbridge and Chris Juul Jensen, led the peloton into the last 20kilometres through downtown San Sebastian.

The steep final climb before the finish saw the race come alive as ORICA-Bikeexchange continued to lead the field onto the ascent before attacks began to spring as the gradient intensified.

Durbridge pulled off with nine kilometres to go as Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) jumped clear followed by Simon Yates and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). 

Yates and Rodriguez pushed on as the gradient reached 23% with Uran dropping off the pace as Mollema and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) moved up.

Mollema led the race into the final five kilometres, ten seconds ahead of Rodriguez and Valverde with Yates a few more seconds behind.

Holding on for the win, Mollema crossed the line alone with Simon Yates sprinting to seventh place from the chasing group.

Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian results:

1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 05:31:00
2. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) +0:05
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:05
7. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) +0:34