Pogacar back in the saddle to take on Yates in San Sebastian

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Just six days after finishing second in the Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar is back on his bike and heads the cast list alongside 2018 Vuelta winner Simon Yates at Saturday's San Sebastian Classic.

The 23-year-old Pogacar failed in his bid to win three straight Tours, beaten this year by the Dane Jonas Vingegaard, but the Slovenian is keen to win in the Basque Country as he builds towards the world championships in Geelong in September and the defence of his Il Lombardia crown.

"Since the end of the Tour I've been to see my fiancee Urska (Zigart) racing in the Tour des Femmes (women's Tour de France) and taken a few quieter days," said the Team UAE Emirates rider whose only previous participation in San Sebastian in 2019, during his first professional season, ended in an abandonment.

The 224.8 kilometres course, which starts and ends in San Sebastian, may well suit Pogacar, providing he is not slowed by the miles in his legs from the Tour.

"The Basque fans are really passionate about cycling and I love racing there," he said, adding that he would then "take a good break" before building for the season finale. UAE announced earlier in the week that Pogacar would not tackle the Vuelta a Espana.

He heads a strong UAE team in San Sebastian with the promising Spaniard Juan Ayuso and the Portuguese Joao Almeida, who was forced out of the Giro d'Italia by Covid while running fourth overall.

The big challenge for Pogacar and his team may well come from the Briton Simon Yates who won two races in Spain this week albeit against lesser opposition.

The BikeExchange rider, who will be riding alongside the Australians Michael Matthews and Nick Schultz, both of whom were at the Tour de France, looks a good bet to emulate his twin brother Adam's victory in San Sebastian seven years ago.

"It's a one-day race that I like very much with explosive climbs and in general a route on which you can really have fun," said the 2018 Vuelta champion.

Another to watch will be the Belgian Remco Evenepoel who won Liege-Bastogne-Liege last April and is using the race as preparation for the Vuelta.

The 2019 champion is joined by two other past winners in the shape of the American Neilson Powless, who took the honours last year while many were away at the Olympics in Tokyo, and veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.

The 42-year-old Valverde, who was the victim of a hit and run incident while on a training ride earlier this month, won San Sebastian in 2008 and 2014. A third victory would equal the record of his countryman Marino Lejarreta who won the last of his three titles in 1987.

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