Frenchman Tony Gallopin claimed the biggest victory of his career to date as he was victorious in the San Sebastian classic on Saturday.
The Radioshack rider was followed home by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Czech Roman Kreuziger (Saxo) in a time of just over five-and-a-half hours.
Gallopin made a strong breakaway from the leading pack with more than 10km of the grueling 232km race to go and managed to comfortably hold his lead at the front of the peloton to finish 26 seconds ahead of Valverde.
Gallopin’s vital move came on the second climb up to Arkale as he opened up a significant advantage on the leading group, including the favored Valverde and Nicolas Roche (Saxo), and could not be caught as rain made the descent into the finish line in San Sebastian treacherous.
It was a disappointing end to the day for Valverde after he appeared to have been led into the perfect position to attack in the final climb by teammate for the day Nairo Quintana.
The Colombian, who finished second in the Tour de France earlier this month, drove the peloton on in the middle part of the race to catch a four-strong group that had built up an early advantage of 11 minutes.
The Movistar pair were joined by Roche, Kreuziger, Mikel Landa (Euskaltel) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) as they made their second climb up Jaizkibel before Quintana dropped off into the chasing peloton.
Sensing that the tricky conditions could make for a difficult final descent though, Gallopin then attacked on the final climb up to Arkale to build up an advantage of more than half a minute.
He was not seriously threatened by the chasing pack as they rolled into the center of the historic Basque city to seal his first ever World Tour victory.
TOUR OF POLAND
AFP, MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy
Bradley Wiggins, last year’s Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion, struggled during the opening stage of the Tour of Poland on Saturday in his return to cycling after a two-month absence.
Wiggins finished a distant nine minutes and 13 seconds adrift of stage winner Diego Ulissi in what was his first competitive outing since mid-May, when he was forced out of the Giro d’Italia with a chest infection.
After being dropped on one of the climbs and laboring to a 58th-place finish, Wiggins announced he would not be taking part in next month’s Tour of Spain as he works his way back to fitness.
“I won’t do the Vuelta, that’s for sure,” the Briton said. “The world championships is what I’m aiming for. It’s just small steps at the moment. I’m just focused on the present, not thinking about next year.”
Lampre-Merida rider Ulissi sprinted to victory on home soil atop the summit finish at Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomites as the race started abroad for the first time in its 85-year history.
Following Saturday’s 184.5km ride from Rovereto, Sunday’s second Italian stage is a 206km route from Marilleva Val di Sole to Passo Pardoi Val di Fassa.
The race then returns to Poland for the remaining five stages, culminating with a time trial in Krakow.