Clásica de San Sebastián

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Clásica de San Sebastián
Klasikoa logo.png
Race details
DateLate July or early August
RegionBasque Country, Spain
English nameClassic of San Sebastián
Local name(s)Clásica de San Sebastián (in Spanish)
Donostia-Donostia Klasikoa (in Basque)
Nickname(s)Ronda Donostiarra
CompetitionUCI World Tour
OrganiserOrganizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi
Race directorJosé Luis Arrieta
Web Edit this at Wikidata
First edition1981
Editions41 (as of 2022)
First winner Marino Lejarreta (ESP)
Most wins Marino Lejarreta (ESP) (3 wins)
Most recent Remco Evenepoel (BEL)

The Donostia-Donostia Klasikoa — Clásica San Sebastián-San Sebastián (San Sebastián Classic) is a one-day professional men's bicycle road race in northern Spain that has been held every summer since 1981 in San Sebastián. It is the most important one-day race in Spain, is considered a one-day race of great prestige, just behind the 'Monuments', and contributes points towards the UCI World Ranking.

It was most recently held on 31 July 2021.

Clásica de San Sebastián is known for its winding, undulating terrain which favours aggressive riding, favouring climbers. It includes the tough Alto de Jaizkibel climb, usually the decisive point of the race.[1] It is one of the three summer classics that form part of the UCI World Tour calendar, along with the Laurentian Classics.

Usually the protagonists of the Clásica de San Sebastián are those who, until a few days before the race have been competing on the roads of the Tour de France, given the proximity of dates of the two competitions. There are many Klasikoa winners who also have a Grand Tour in their palmares.

It has always started and finished in San Sebastian, although the initial and intermediate stretches have varied throughout its history, so its total mileage has not been the same, although it has almost always been around 230 km.[2] The race traditionally finishes at theBoulevard de San Sebastián a major street in the centre of the city.

It is organized by Organizaciones Ciclistas Euskadi, after the merger of the Euskal Bizikleta with the Tour of the Basque Country in 2009.


Jaime Ugarte (1996)
Joaquim Rodríguez and his teammate Constantino Zaballa, wearing the txapela, usually given to winners in the Basque Country.

Clásica de San Sebastián is the most important one-day race in Spanish professional road cycling. It was first run in 1981 and has stopped only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was created by a cycling journalist of Diario Vasco and founder/chief of Organizaciones Deportivas Diario Vasco, Jaime Ugarte. He later went on to found Tour of the Basque Country.[3]

Ugarte won the elections to lead the Guipuzcoan Cycling Federation, and one of his first tasks as president was revitalize the track, and the creation of an important race for San Sebastián. Along with his friends and colleagues, José Mari Eceiza and the Ayestarán brothers, they devised the idea of a professional race to inspire amateurs and fans. They designed a race between San Sebastián and Bilbao, but several reasons impeded this, so they decided to focus on Gipuzkoa, where the mountain pass Jaizkibel was located. Helped by UCI president Luis Puig, they placed the race in the highest steps of world cycling.[4]

Ugarte has talked about the creation of the race:

Our idea was to do a race for professionals to motivate amateurs. We thought of a Six Days, but we left it at the Six Hours because here there was no mentality for this type of race. We wanted to do an international classic copying Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.... We also thought of doing San Sebastián-Bilbao and the following year Bilbao-San Sebastián, even round trip, but we were going too far in kilometers. In the end, we decided that since the only important pass in Gipuzkoa was Jaizkibel, it had to go through there, with a return trip through Gipuzkoa and a finish at the Boulevard. At the beginning, we also held a night criterium at the Boulevard.[5]

The birth of the race[edit]

Marino Lejarreta, the race's first, and most successful champion.

The race was first organized in 1981. Throughout the 229 kilometers that this race consisted of, the most outstanding note was the hardness of it. Of the 71 riders who took the start, only 30 were able to reach the finish line, on a very hot day and with a huge number of spectators watching the race. The ascent of the five passes that marked the route caused havoc in the peloton. With some skirmishes, the race was relatively calm until the Jaizkibel (which with Azcárate, Karabieta, Udana and Alto de Orio) formed the quintet of great difficulties of the race. There, Marino Lejarreta took off and marched alone towards the finish line. He managed to win again the following year, attacking the rest of the chasing group in Jaizkibel, and reaching Pedro Delgado and Jesús Rodríguez Magro in the breakaway, managing to beat them in the final sprint.[6] He would go on to repeat the feat in 1987. Other important riders who managed to win the race in its first editions include Miguel Indurain, World Champion Claude Criquielion and Classics Allah Adri van der Poel.

Redrawing the climbs[edit]

The cyclists climb in 2006.

Over the years the organizers have added climbs to complicate the race, as the riders' level has generally improved over the years, making it more of a climbers classic. The course was insufficient for the big group to break up and play for the victory in San Sebastian or in the previous climbs of Gaintzurizketa and especially Miracruz (3 km from the finish), since in some editions it had an outcome similar to that of the Milan-San Remo. After the turn of the century the race has come to be dominated by Puncheurs, All-rounders, and classics specialist who could sustain themselves in climbs, on top of the climbers.

Recent occurrences[edit]

On 1 August 2015, Adam Yates took his biggest victory to date by winning the Clásica de San Sebastián after attacking on the final climb as leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing Team was involved in a crash with a race motorcycle, and holding off the chasers on the descent into San Sebastián. In the confusion after Van Avermaet's crash Yates did not realise he had won, so did not initially celebrate when crossing the finishing line.[7]

Evenepoel winning the 2019 edition.

On 3 August 2019 Remco Evenepoel scored his first World Tour victory when he won the Clasica de San Sebastian. He escaped from the field, accompanied by Toms Skujinš about 20 km (12 mi) from the finish, dropping his companion on the last hill and soloing to victory.[8] He became the third youngest rider to win a classic.


It has always started and finished in San Sebastian and the initial and intermediate section has been variable in all its editions so its total mileage has not been the same although it has almost always been around 230 km. Its maximum difficulty is the top of Jaizquíbel (classified as 1st category) located in the first editions about 15 km from the finish, although with progressive changes it has been moving away from the finish. Thus in those first editions it was climbed on the Fuenterrabía slope until, in order to offer other alternatives, giving the opportunity to other types of riders and not favoring so much the climbers, it was decided to climb the opposite slope of Pasajes to place the pass at about 30 km from the finish.[9]

Owing to the fact that in 2000 a group of 53 riders arrived after Jaizkibel in 2001, the Gurutze pass (classified as 3rd category) was included, replacing the Gaintzurizketa pass, leaving Jaizkibel 32 km from the finish. This change initially caused a more selected group to arrive. However, after the 2006 edition, in which a group of 51 riders arrived, other alternatives were sought and progressively introduced. In 2008 Gurutze was replaced by Gaintzurizketa+Arkale (catalogued as 2nd category) placing Jaizkibel at 38.5 km from the finish. Then, in 2010, a circuit was added repeating twice the hard part of the race (Jaizkibel and Gaintzurizketa+Arkale). Finally, in 2014, another circuit was introduced inside San Sebastian passing twice through the finish line to climb the Igueldo pass -on the slope called Bordako Tontorra- (classified as 2nd category) at 7 km from the finish line, but leaving the last pass through Jaizkibel at 53.9 km from the finish line. This last change has not been without criticism since it can condition the race a lot as it could avoid distant attacks and favor climbers something that was wanted to be avoided in the first editions.[10][11][12]

In the 2018 edition the race continues to be run in the surroundings of the province of Guipuzcoa in the Basque Country up to the city of San Sebastian, likewise, the total number of mountain passes is maintained with 8 passes, of which Jaizquíbel and Arkale are climbed twice with the purpose of causing a strong selection in the race, later the cyclists face the last pass of Murgil Tontorra with a length of 1.8 kilometers at 11.3% to then descend and finish above the city of San Sebastian.


Mt. Jaizkibel

The Jaizikbel is often a decisive climb in the Clásica San Sebastián. Nowadays the hill is climbed twice in the race and during the last passage a small group of riders remains at the front of the race and are able to win the Clásica San Sebastián. The Jaizkibel is followed by the Alto de Arkale climb with the top only fourteen kilometers from the finish in San Sebastián.

Current climbs[edit]

Current climbs of the race
Name Distance Avg. Gradient
Azkarate 4.2 km 7.3%
Urraki 8.6 km 6.9%
Alkiza 4.4 km 6.2%
Jaizkibel 7.9 km 5.6%
Erlaitz 3.8 km 10.6%
Murgil-Tontorra 2.1 km 10.1%


Year Country Rider Team
1981  Spain Marino Lejarreta Teka
1982  Spain Marino Lejarreta Teka
1983  Belgium Claude Criquielion Splendor
1984  Switzerland Niki Rüttimann La Vie Claire
1985  Netherlands Adri van der Poel Kwantum–Decosol–Yoko
1986  Spain Iñaki Gaston Kas
1987  Spain Marino Lejarreta Caja Rural
1988  Netherlands Gert-Jan Theunisse PDM–Ultima–Concorde
1989  Austria Gerhard Zadrobilek 7-Eleven
1990  Spain Miguel Indurain Banesto
1991  Italy Gianni Bugno Chateau d'Ax–Gatorade
1992  Mexico Raúl Alcalá PDM–Ultima–Concorde
1993  Italy Claudio Chiappucci Carrera Jeans–Tassoni
1994  France Armand de Las Cuevas Castorama
1995  United States Lance Armstrong Motorola
1996  Germany Udo Bölts Team Telekom
1997  Italy Davide Rebellin Française des Jeux
1998  Italy Francesco Casagrande Cofidis
1999  Italy Francesco Casagrande Vini Caldirola
2000  Netherlands Erik Dekker Rabobank
2001  France Laurent Jalabert CSC–Tiscali
2002  France Laurent Jalabert CSC–Tiscali
2003  Italy Paolo Bettini Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004  Spain Miguel Ángel Martín Perdiguero Saunier Duval–Prodir
2005  Spain Constantino Zaballa Saunier Duval–Prodir
2006  Spain Xavier Florencio Bouygues Télécom
2007  Spain Juan Manuel Gárate Quick-Step–Innergetic
2008  Spain Alejandro Valverde Caisse d'Epargne
2009  Czech Republic Roman Kreuziger Liquigas
2010  Spain Luis León Sánchez Caisse d'Epargne
2011  Belgium Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma–Lotto
2012  Spain Luis León Sánchez Rabobank
2013  France Tony Gallopin RadioShack–Leopard
2014  Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2015  Great Britain Adam Yates Orica–GreenEDGE
2016  Netherlands Bauke Mollema Trek–Segafredo
2017  Poland Michał Kwiatkowski Team Sky
2018  France Julian Alaphilippe Quick-Step Floors
2019  Belgium Remco Evenepoel Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2020 No race
2021  United States Neilson Powless EF Education–Nippo
2022  Belgium Remco Evenepoel Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team

Multiple winners[edit]

Riders in italics are active.

Wins Rider Editions
 Marino Lejarreta (ESP) 1981, 1982, 1987
 Francesco Casagrande (ITA) 1998, 1999
 Remco Evenepoel (BEL) 2019, 2022
 Laurent Jalabert (FRA) 2001, 2002
 Luis León Sanchez (ESP) 2010, 2012
 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 2008, 2014

Wins per country[edit]

Wins Country
 United States
 Czech Republic
 United Kingdom

Women's race[edit]

In 2019, a women's race was added.[13] The women's race covers 127 km and follows a similar route to the men, including a climb of the Jaizkibel.

Year Country Rider Team
2019  Australia Lucy Kennedy Mitchelton–Scott
2020 No race
2021  Netherlands Annemiek van Vleuten Movistar Team

Wins per country[edit]

Wins Country

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Clásica de San Sebastián: the festival of the climbers". UCI. UCI. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Rutómetro de la Clásica San Sebastián- San Sebastián (2008-2009)". Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  3. ^ Alonso, Carolina (16 January 2013). ""La Clásica San Sebastián es un escaparate buenísimo, la hemos visto hasta viajando en avión"". Noticias de Gipuzkoa. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  4. ^ Urraburu, Benito (17 August 2012). ""Que tu afición entienda de ciclismo es algo que te motiva"". Diario Vasco. Diario Vasco. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  5. ^ Urraburu, Benito (17 August 2012). ""Que tu afición entienda de ciclismo es algo que te motiva"". Diario Vasco. Diario Vasco. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Marino Lejarreta, el ciclista que caía bien". 28 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Adam Yates wins Clásica de San Sebastián - without knowing it - Cycling Weekly". 1 August 2015.
  8. ^ Malach, Pat (3 August 2019). "Evenepoel wins Clasica San Sebastian". Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Clásica San Sebastián 2009 | Recorrido | Trazado y perfil de la Clásica San Sebastián-San Sebastián 2009 -". Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  10. ^ "Web oficial de la Clásica San Sebastián-San Sebastián 2007. Recorrido -". Archived from the original on 2014-08-13. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Klasikoa". 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Clasica San Sebastian Feminina". Donostiako Klasikoa. Archived from the original on 27 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.