Earlier in the day, Josey Černý flew the flag for CCC Team in the day’s breakaway after going clear alongside seven other riders and opening up a gap of more than four minutes after 60 kilometers of racing.
By the time the now nine-rider front group reached the summit of the iconic category one Jaizkibel climb, the peloton had shaved around two minutes off the leaders’ advantage, which only continued to shrink on the Erlaitz, a new category one climb for this year’s edition of the race.
The breakaway soon started to split with Černý digging deep for as long as possible before losing contact with the front of the race as one of the early leaders attacked to go over the top around one minute ahead of a reduced main bunch.
With Černý swept up by the chasing peloton, CCC Team remained well-represented behind the lone leader, who was eventually caught with just over 50 kilometers to go as the attacks started to fly off the front of the main field.
Joey Rosskopf, who also came into the race from the Tour de France, had Van Avermaet in his wheel on the slopes of the penultimate climb, which was where the peloton reduced in size further with Van Avermaet still in contention with 25 kilometers remaining.
The summit of the final climb, which had pitches of 19 percent in places, came with eight kilometers to go and it was here that the eventual winner Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) made his successful move from a late two-rider attack.
A determined Van Avermaet continued to chase hard as part of the second group on the road before going on to launch a powerful sprint on the finishing straight which saw him secure second place on the line and prove his consistently strong form at the Spanish UCI WorldTour one-day race.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“I am happy with how the race went today. I think I did the race that I had to do which was to try to survive on the climbs and then do a good sprint at the end of the day so, I think that worked out pretty well. The new steep climb was hard but I was able to survive it and I managed the race well, I was always in a good position and finished it off with second place which is a really good result at San Sebastián. Of course, winning is always better but, I think to take something out of the race in these circumstances and to be on the podium of a WorldTour race is always good.”
“Sprinting after a long and hard race has always been one of my strong points. It’s not come out as many times as I would have liked so far this year but, I still believe in it and I think that is also one of my strengths as a rider. Today, I was really counting on my sprint and we saw that I was able to have a good one at the end. While my sprint today wasn’t for first, it is important to always race for the best result possible.”
“I am really happy and a little bit surprised with my performance today. After the Tour of Austria, I went to an altitude camp so I wasn’t sure how my body would react today. I felt really good though and, as a team, we were trying right from the beginning to have someone in the breakaway. It took around 30 kilometers for the group to go clear and, at first, I was thinking a lot about trying to save energy for the last climbs so I could do as much as possible to help Greg and the team. This is a really hard race and the terrain is super tough so, I was pleased with how I was able to push myself here.”
Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
“If at the start of the day I knew that Greg would finish on the podium, I would have been happy so, for me, this is an excellent result. Of course, with the way Greg won the sprint at the finish, there is a little bit of disappointment as today, we really had a great Greg out on the road. It was a really hard race and we were a little bit afraid about the new parcours but, in the end, Greg showed that he is still in amazing condition. Of course, I have to say chapeau to the young kid, Evenepoel, who won after a super strong move.”
“We discussed at the start that we wanted to have someone in the breakaway and so for us, it was good to have Josef in there and he did a good job. It was not easy and he went over the hard climbs in a good position and after he was caught, he was able to give everything he had left for the team.”
“Everything went well though and everybody did a good job for the team, especially Joey, who was also coming out of the Tour. For the situation to be perfect, we should have had one guy with Greg at the end but, even though he was alone, he did a fantastic job and was really focused.”
Clásica de San Sebastián
One-day race: San Sebastián > San Sebastián (227.3km)
Top 3: 1. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) 2. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) 3. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb)
CCC Team Top 3: 2. Greg Van Avermaet 54. Joey Rosskopf 56. Riccardo Zoidl