Remco Evenepoel’s return to racing almost didn’t go exactly as planned. The Belgian star of Soudal-Quick Step, a two-time winner at the Clasica San Sebastian already, was looking to secure a record-tying third win in the Basque classic by doing what he always does — getting into the lead group and slowly riding everyone off his wheel. But Bahrain’s Pello Bilbao, racing in his home region, had other ideas, staying with the World Champion and Bora’s Alexander Vlasov to the final climb, and not just matching wheels over the final Murgil ascent but even poking his nose into the wind, and poking a hole into the inevitability of the narrative. Bilbao’s brief move was enough to drop Vlasov and set himself up for a two-man race, where the Basque was thought to have a sprinting advantage.
But Evenepoel had a backup plan. Keeping the pace high, the Belgian set himself up for a sprint that did materialize, and fell into his hands perfectly, when Bilbao took his turn at the front with 600 meters to go. That gave Evenepoel the chance to sit on Bilbao until the final sprint, and Remco executed this perfectly, with room to raise his arms a bike length ahead of Bilbao for the win. Vlasov remained away from the peloton to take third. Nielson Powless, a former winner here, took the peloton arrival for fourth ahead of Ion Izagirre.
Evenepoel’s third win ties him with Marino Lejarreta for the record. Not bad for a 23-year-old. Guessing he will be heard from here again.
- EVENEPOEL Remco, Soudal - Quick Step, 5:30:59
- BILBAO Pello, Bahrain - Victorious, s.t.
- VLASOV Aleksandr, BORA - hansgrohe, at 0:28
- POWLESS Neilson, EF Education-EasyPost, 2:50
- IZAGIRRE Ion, Cofidis, 2:57
- SKUJIŅŠ Toms, Lidl - Trek, 3:02
- ARANBURU Alex, Movistar Team, 3:02
- COSTA Rui, Intermarché - Circus - Wanty, 3:02
- BAGIOLI Andrea, Soudal - Quick Step 3:02
- BENOOT Tiesj, Jumbo-Visma, 3:02
Donostia - Donostia 230.3 km
The men are slowly coming out of their post-Tour hangover. San Sebastian is a race that is much too good for its dodgy calendar spot, let’s see what it delivers today.
Expected finish time: 16:30-17:10 CEST
Don Ostia of the Day: Juan Ayuso
Lots of TdF riders, lots of riders getting in gear for Worlds, this could be a strong edition. And the course is good for wonderkids.