The San Sebastian Klasikoa returns in 2021 as a Women’s WorldTour race after a first edition in 2019 at 1.1 level. The race mirrors the men’s San Sebastian which is a major classic. The course sees riders take on a lot of climbing and anyone racing here after the Tokyo Olympics may struggle. The first climb of the day comes early, and it’s a tough leg sapper one. Aia is 8.9km long at an average of 3.6%, with max gradients of 8%. It’s an early tester for the riders but things back off for a while afterwards. Almost 60km later is the climb of Jaizkibel which contains 3 steep 12% ramps in its first half. It’s another long one at 7.9km and tougher at 5.6% average. We’re likely to see the peloton split big time on this climb and riders will try and make moves at the front.
A long descent takes care of most of the 13km from the summit of Jaizkibel to the bottom of the next climb – Gurutze. This shorter climb has a ramp of 12%, followed by another at 9%. An ideal attack point as the climb is only 2.7km long at 5.2%. It’s still 30km from the summit to the finish, so riders may wait for the final climb, Murgil Tontorra. The steepness of this climb will blow the race apart. Only 2.1km long but with a max gradient of 19%, it’s a beast. An early ramp of 14% barely eases before the 19% section which only heads back to 14% before the summit. From there it’s 8 largely downhill kilometres to the finish line.
Lucy Kennedy’s 2019 victory saw her make two moves. She initially took a gap of 1 minute over the pack before puncturing and having to do it all again. The peloton was in pieces, with the preceding climbs having worked their magic. Kennedy then made her second move on the Murgil Tontorra, using the steepness of the climb to power away from a small lead group containing Janneke Ensing (who is now Kennedy’s teammate) and Pauliena Rooijakkers.
2020 – Not Held
2019 – Lucy Kennedy
2018 – Not Held
2017 – Not Held
2016 – Not Held
Saturday 31st July 2021
11:00 – 13:00 BST on Eurosport Player/GCN
Twitter Hashtag: #KlasikoaWomen
Women’s San Sebastian Klasikoa 2021 Profile
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Lucy Kennedy was the winner of this race back in 2019. She had quite a quiet 2021 season so far though. After a good start with 2nd Overall in the Aussie Festival of Cycling in January, her best result since in Europe is 18th. She set that at Amstel Gold and Kennedy hasn’t raced since Liege Bastogne Liege in April. It’s tough to pick a repeat win. Her teammate Ane Santesteban has spent most of the year helping teammates. She got a brief run of leadership in the Spanish one-day races in May though. She scored 3 top-10s in those races and that could be repeated here.
Movistar’s Lourdes Oyarbide had a quiet start to the 2021 season but took a pair of top-10s in the Spanish nationals which spurred her form on. She followed those results up with a 5th on a Lotto Belgium Tour stage and 4th overall. I think she could sneak into the top-10 here. I’d pretty much finished writing this preview when Annemiek van Vleuten announced that she would be racing. That threw the cat amongst the pigeons! Despite racing in Japan on Wednesday and rushing back to the Basque Country for Saturday morning, it’s impossible to ignore her credentials. She might be jetlagged or fatigued, but she’ll still be the race favourite.
Trek’s Ruth Winder tried a few attacks at the Olympic road race but ultimately couldn’t make a move stick. She’s recently announced her retirement at the end of this season and will want a top result to go out on. There’s a question about how she’ll feel after coming back from Tokyo so quickly. The Trek team here is full of solid riders but not necessarily climbers. Ellen van Dijk should be well-rested after not going to Tokyo along with Audrey Cordon-Ragot, however, the climbs feel like they’ll be too much for both riders.
Liv Racing have a solid trio of riders who can challenge here. Pauliena Rooijakkers had a great Vuelta a Burgo. She finished 4th on the major climb to Lagunas de Neila, which took her up to 9th overall. Her perennial issue is always going to be positioning at crucial moments as she doesn’t like to rough it in the peloton. Soraya Paladin had some great results back in the Spring and then finished 7th in La Course. She had a fairly quiet Giro Donne but did clock a 5th place on one stage. She’s another who might still be recovering from Tokyo. Sabrina Stultiens is a good alternative as well. She got a top-10 at Durango Durango before helping Rooijakkers by being consistent at Vuelta a Burgos. She finished 15th in GC there and could get a similar result in this race.
FDJ’s Evita Muzic is another who did well in the Spanish one-day races in mid-May and had a good Vuelta a Burgo finishing 13th in GC. She took that form into the French national championships, which she won for the first time. She was consistent at the Giro Donne, finishing 12th on GC with one top-10 stage finish. The course here is similar to the Giro Rosa stage she won in 2020 for her first WorldTour victory.
Tatiana Guderzo has had a great run of form in the last couple of months. She finished 8th in GC at the Tour de Suisse, before narrowly missing out on the Italian national championship. Guderzo had a great Giro Donne where she also finished 8th Overall. That came largely off the back of her solid climbing, with top-10 finishes in the 2 major summit stages. She’ll be backed up by Anastasia Chursina who took a great solo breakaway at the Vuelta a Burgos. She’s spent July doing well in the Turkish races with 4 top-10 results, including victory at the Kahramanmaras Grand Prix. She climbs well but other more natural climbers should distance her here.
Erica Magnaldi is another rider to enjoy a good Giro Donne. She started it off well with 5th on the major mountain stage on day 2 and then slowly fell backwards as the race went on. She still finished 13th Overall which pair with her 9th Overall at the Tour de Suisse shows a rider in good form. There’s hope for a top-5 at this race.
A.R. Monex’s Eider Merino should always be considered when the road goes steeply uphill. She had a solid Giro, finishing 17th Overall and being just outside the top-10 on the major climbing days. With a reduced field compared to the Giro, there’s hope she can break into the top-10 at San Sebastian Klasikoa.
Women’s San Sebastian Klasikoa Outsiders
Janneke Ensing will probably be behind her teammates Lucy Kenned and Ane Santesteban here but she was 2nd in the 2019 San Sebastian Klasikoa. She’s only had a couple of chances to shine in 2021, but finished 11th on the hilly first stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in May and has the odd top-20 place since. She’s probably going to be a useful domestique here this year. Valcar’s Barbara Malcotti did well with a 21st place Overall at the Giro Donne and finishing the 4th best young rider. When able, she’s someone who may be able to break into the top-20 as she progresses through the ranks. The 21-year-old was 17th at GP Eibar earlier in the year and continues to be the cusp of a truly big result.
Another young rider hoping to impress is Women Cycling Sport rider Alessia Vigilia. Back in 2019’s San Sebastian Klasikoa she finished 10th, aged just 19. She’s struggled since to make the same impact but hopefully returning to the scene of that great result will spur her on again. Lija Laizane of Eneicat is another who did well in the 2019 race, finishing 11th. She has also struggled in 2021 too, with 31st at Vuelta CV Feminas her best result. Hopefully this race can bring out her best again.
Finally, the Top Girls Fassa Bortolo pairing of Greta Marturano and Debora Silvestri continue to impress. Marturano finished 14th on the final stage of the Giro Donne but really impressed back in May. She was 8th Overall at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, 4th at GP de Chambery and 12th at Navarra Elite Classics. Silvestri has a similar record. Finishing 18th on that same Giro stage, 4th Overall at Setmana Ciclista Valencian, 3rd at GP de Chambery and 17th at Navarra Elite Classics. A first Women’s WorldTour top-10 result would be a breakthrough.
Annemiek van Vleuten