The 41st edition of Clasica San Sebastian will be held on the 30th July 2022. Who will replace Neilson Powless and wear the legendary hat? More than a just circuit race, it is an event for many riders. The first part of the 224 km is a flat terrain where breakaways try their best to make it to an unlikely finish. The second part is where all the steep climbs lie and the race shapes up.The peloton is expected to gradually thin out until the last 3 climbs where multiple attacks are expected. Sprinters, descenders, solo riders will all try to have formulate things to their way.
The Jaizkibel is the first step of the finale. Peaking with 60 km to go, it could be the platform for a secondary break-away which if strong enough could trap the main favourites.
The penultimate climb contains a punishing mid-segment. Classified as 1st category, the Erlaitz crests with still 40 km to go. Some brave and strong solo rider can have a go from here. An attack from Remco Evenepoel will happen here and will define the race. It will be about who will follow him and who has team-mates left to lead the chase. Even a well organised chase will need not to give the Belgian Phenomenon too much room.
The Murgil Tontorra has classical been the defining moment of the race. This is where the pure powerful climbers will feast. With segments of up to 19%, this is where the other big favourite, Tadej Pogacar will go for it. He nevertheless needs to be in the leading group to win the race and most importantly to make sure he does not bring with him any fast men or expert descenders.
All riders in the lead group will be glad that Wout Van Aert is not here. However, the start list is packed with brave descenders, most famous of them is Matej Mohoric.
The Clasica San Sebastian Predictions:
Remco Evenepoel will have to go early if he wishes to win here, while Tadej Pogacar’s best shot will be to hope nobody can follow him when he attacks on steep gradients.
EF Education- Easy Post has among their ranks, last year’s winner Neilson Powless, The American is in fine form as witnessed in the Tour de Suisse and has been very eager in The Tour de France. Alberto Bettiol, Simon Carr, Ruben Guerreiro, Esteban Chavez and Rigoberto Uran are all prongs that Jonathan Vaughters will be using.
Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas will be hard man to drop. If he wants to win the race though, Geraint Thomas will have to do something atypical to maximise his current excellent form. Luke Plapp, Tao Georghan Hart and Carlos Rodriguez will most probably be used as domestique but they would relish any opportunity. After a hellish Tour de Suisse and Tour de France, marred by sickness, Daniel Martinez can take the win if he finds his form. Dylan Van Baarle will be the one put forward if it comes down to a sprint.
Quick Step Alpha Vinyl will be banking everything on Remco Evenepoel. James Knox will nevertheless try to infiltrate breakaways to avoid his team the responsibility of chasing. Italian duo Cattaneo and Masnada as good as they are will be used to pace things up until Remco goes.
It will not be all about Pogacar for Team UAE Emirates. Joao Almeida has 7 lives as is never fully dropped. His poor descending skills as seen in the Giro will make a win unlikely for him even though he possesses an incredible sprint. Juan Ayuso is an incredible back up option. he can attack from anywhere, climbs extremely well and is powerful in sprints. Alessandro Covi is the first one who is expected to show his cards in the team and it could be the right one.
After a deceiving Tour de France, team Bahrain will definitely not be playing the Mikel Landa card alone. Yes, he had a great Giro, but burning Gino Mader, Matej Mohoric, Santiago Buitrago, Wout Poels and Luis Leon Sanchez to bring Landa to a reduced group is madness. Each of the above named riders will have a go on their own.
Team Intermarche Wanty Goubert will be putting a man in the early break away before Jan Hirt will have a go way before the last climb. Domenico Pozzovivo, on his side,will hang on to the main group as mush as he can and will be in the mix for the finale.
Guilio Ciccone‘s form has been nothing short of deceiving recently, but he remains a powerful climber. While Bauke Mollema, a big fan of this race will definitely be a contender for the win, an eye needs to be kept on young Mattias Skjelmose Jensen. While he is being formed as a GC rider, the Danish ability in terms of power and sprints is way above average.
Team Jumbo Visma has no out-to-out favourite here and unless, a drastic turn of circumstances, Tom Dumoulin will not be wining. Classic specialist Tieej Bennoot is the best card to play for the Danish Team. Gijs Leemreize is eagerly awaited as well after a brillant break through Giro 2022.
Team Bike Exchange is one of the favourite here. They have riders on form to win in any scenario. Michael Matthews, although his top sprint speed is not getting better with age, he is becoming more and more complete in other aspects. He is climbing with the best will definitely be part of the finale. Simon Yates missed the Team’s Tour but he snatched two wins in the last week beating the likes of Ayuso, Chavez and Nibali. Nick Schultz is definitely a rider to watch. Regularly on the attack, he was denied a stage win at the Tour by Magnus Cort. In addition, he has been climbing with the elite in the last Pyrenees.
Andreas Kron and Alexey Lutsenko will be carrying the flag for the respective team, namely Team Lotto Soudal and team Astana. Tour de France hero Simon Geschke will be sharing duties with Ion Izagirre and more importantly a rather fresh Guillaume Martin who left the Tour de France early.
Old fox Alejandro Valverde is on the list following a car accident he suffered less than a month ago. Alex Aranburu and Carlos Verona are good options to consider in case things go south for the former world champion.
Ag2r Citroen is coming with a rather weak team where everything will be on Benoit Cosnefroy‘s shoulder. Soren Kragh Andersen returns but Team DSM has a real leader in Frenchman Romain Bardet. While he has perfect descending skills, Bardet has been climbing like we have seen him for years, before suffering from illness in both Giro and Tour.
Can Hugo Houle do it again? After taking one of the most remarkable win in ths year’s Tour, the Canadian is now a watched man, This could make the affair of his fellow country man and team mate Michael Woods.
Following an excellent Tour de France where he finished 4th Overall, David Gaudu will love to carry this form and win this classics. While Micheal Storer is another options, the real dangerman from The FDJ team is Valentin Madouas. The 25 year old had an impressive spring classics where he was always at the head of affairs. He later on impressed by displaying great climbing skills to accompany Gaudu with an 11th final spot for himself.
Equipo Kerm Pharma, Team Caja Rural, Euskatel Euskadi and Burgos will try to weigh in on the race by getting in the early break away. Mikel Bizkarra, Aular, Azurmendi and Barretnetxea are the most likely break away contenders as is C. Rodriguez from team Total Energies.
Last but no least, the heroes of the Giro returns, while Jai Hindley is not a firm favourite for being not known as powerful and offensive rider, Team Bora Hansgrohe can try their luck with Wilco Keldermann, Emmanuel Buchmann, Max Schachmann and Matteo Fabbro.
★☆☆☆☆ Bauke Mollema
The former winner of the race is based his best but he loves this race will be in the top 10
★☆☆☆☆ Alberto Bettiol
An offensive rider who will keep pushing and hope to be in the leading group to make use of his sprint.
★☆☆☆☆ Daniel Martinez
Had he not been sick, he would be one of the man to beat.
★☆☆☆☆ Matteo Fabbro
He will attack and resist as much as he can
The young dutchman is a very able rider with good speed.
★☆☆☆☆ Nick Schultz
The Dark Horse. He climbs and sprints well as seen in the Tour, He has an excellent chance of winning if he stays with the best as his biggest opponents in a sprint is his own teammate.
★☆☆☆☆ Simon Yates
Not the long climbs wher he excels. he is however on good form.
★★☆☆☆ Andreas Kron
The main man for the battling team. In any case, he will most likely aim for a good finish place that will bring points to his team.
He has a sprint that few climbers possessess and will work towards using it.
★★☆☆☆ Mattias Skjelmose Jensen
In two seasons at the elite, Denmark’s next big thing is the man the follow.
He will try to stay with the best on the climbs and follow attacks.
Prior to leaving the Tour prematurely, he was tipped for the KOM jersey. If he recovered, he will try to explode the race.
Will he be having a chance or will he be protecting Landa’s aim for a 9th place?
★★★☆☆ Alejandro Valverde
back from a hit and run accident, the Veteran should never be discounted, especially not in classics.
★★★☆☆ Juan Ayuso
He will not be a mere lieutenant to Pogacar. He will attack and try to sneak away.
The defending champion knows how to upset the race by attacking at the right moment.
★★★☆☆ David Gaudu.
Good sprinter. Decent form. top 10.
He has a real chance of winning here. He has exploded in the Giro. In typical Remco way, he can attack early and resist.
★★★☆☆ Jan Hirt
We have seen this man attack and upset races. He has rested well afer his Giro exploits. Beware!
★★★★☆ Valentin Madouas
FDJ biggest chance. The stage is set for him to claim a first classics win!
★★★★☆ Remco Evenepoel
He does not have many tricks in his hands. His main one is an attack from 40 km far out. he is that good though that even if everyone expects him to attacks, he can still distance riders and ride solo for the win
★★★★☆ Tadej Pogacar
The best climber at the start. Although he has a strong team around him, everyone will look to him to chase attacks. The precentage for a knock out blow is here, however this last for a mere km in combination. A lot of riders dropped can make it back.
★★★★★ Michael Matthews
His win in the Tour de France marks the dawn of the new Bling. Resilient and nearly impossible to drop of short climbs. He still can sprint.
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