Tough San Sebastian course suits winner Sanchez

Madrid: Spain`s Luis Leon Sanchez fended off Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov for victory in a tough new version of the San Sebastian Classic, Spain`s top one-day race, on Saturday.

One of three riders who broke away on a second assault on the daunting Jaizkebel ascent, a climb in previous race editions only tackled once, Caisse d`Epargne rider Sanchez outsprinted Vinokourov at the finish by a bike length.

Third place, 34 seconds back, went to 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre of Spain with compatriot Haimar Zubeldia in fourth.

"Riding over the Jaizkebel twice, not once, made all the difference today," the 26-year-old Sanchez told reporters.

"The race is much tougher now and I could take advantage of that. I know the area well from racing here as an amateur, which was also a help."

As is his custom when he wins, Sanchez dedicated the 20th victory of his career to his elder brother who died in a traffic accident five years ago.

Sanchez is Spain`s sixth winner of the race in the last seven years.

Vinokourov said: "My head wanted the victory but my legs couldn`t respond."

Luxembourg`s Andy Schleck, Tour de France runner-up, pulled out of the race after 120 km following a crash.

Bureau Report

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