2022 Klasika San Sebastián Preview

San Sebastián > San Sebastián 224.2km

With just a slight change never the finish, this year’s route is very similar to previous editions. We have the Jaizkibel, quickly followed by Erlaitz and then Murgil Tontorra to finish, it’s a route I love. The race has the usual mix of riders coming from the Tour, hoping to squeeze the last ounce of performance out of their legs, and others who are already starting the final phase of their season. The winner normally comes from the Tour, but Evenepoel was the exception to the rule, so those coming here from a different route cannot be discounted. 

Weather

Cloudy sun and around 25 degrees, perfect conditions for a bike race.

The Climbs

The mythical Jaizkibel. Those struggling after the Tour will find out here.

The Erlaitz climb is very difficult, but will we see big attacks? The problem is the 20km of flat between this and the final climb. 

A proper leg breaker. This is where we sometimes see the winning move, but not always. From the crest there is just 8km to go, the descent is fast but not technical.

Tactics

This is never easy to predict, due to the uncertainty those coming from the Tour have. Pogačar is here, but he cannot be certain how his legs will respond after going so deep in the last month. The history books tell us that those who are fighting for yellow in the Tour don’t win this race, but Pogačar has a habit of rewriting the history books.

Teams with multiple options need to take advantage of this, instead of simply waiting to kick their arse kicked on the final climb. Several the big teams are in this position, so I hope we’ll see proper attacks on Erlaitz, and pressure being applied to those with just one leader. As both Pogačar and Evenepoel are racing, I do hope teams respond by attacking and not being scared. Long range attacks have been successful here in recent years, after many years of that not being the case. This year, a lot will depend on the attitude of QuickStep, Ineos, UAE and BikeExchange. 

Contenders

Tadej Pogačar – will he be tired? UAE have been clever and brought other riders who can challenge for the win, even if Pogačar finds he’s got nothing left in the legs. Both Almeida and Ayuso are good options for this race, but Pogačar is their star man. Can he dig deep into his resources for one more big ride before a well-earned rest? If he’s still in the mix after the Jaizkibel, it’s game on.

Remco Evenepoel – won here back in 2019, despite being dropped earlier in the day. He’s recently been putting in some big rides at altitude, so we’ll have to see how his body responds to racing again. Everyone will be watching him closely, which could allow someone like Mikkel Honoré to sneak away and challenge for the win, just like he did last year. 

Simon Yates – flying! A couple of wins in the last week, Yates is enjoying a fine period of form. Not coming from the Tour isn’t a great route for this race, but when you have great legs, things like that don’t really matter. Not only is he going well, but the team also have Matthews and Schultz as excellent options. The presence of Matthews means that the other two should be attacking, allowing Bling to try and hold on for a sprint. With such a strong team, the they’ll hope to walk away with the win.

Dani Martínez – this race is normally won by someone who rides the Tour, doesn’t challenge for yellow, and leaves the race in good form. The Colombian ticks all those boxes, and he goes well in this part of the world. He was ill at the start of the Tour, but you could see in the final week that he was returning to his best. The signs are good for him in terms of challenging to win this race.

Alberto Bettiol – another who fits the description of the usual winner of this race. If he’s to win, he can’t wait for the final climb, as there are others who are better than him. I hope to see him attacking from distance.

Bauke Mollema – what a record he has in this race, winning once and finishing in the top 10 on nine occasions, but what does he have anything left after completing both the Giro and Tour?

Prediction Time

I’m ignoring the history books and taking a win for Simon Yates.

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