Samuel Sánchez to kick off 2012 in la Vuelta a Andalucia
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Samuel Sánchez to kick off 2012 in la Vuelta a Andalucia

by Ben Atkins at 4:49 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Olympic champion to lead strong Euskaltel-Euskadi team in southern Spanish race

samuel sanchezSamuel Sánchez will get his 2012 season under way, at the head of a strong Euskaltel-Euskadi team, in the Vuelta a Andalucia, which begins in San Fernando on February 18th. The Olympic champion started 2011 in the same race, and went on to have one of his most successful seasons to date, with victories that included the Luz-Ardiden stage and the mountains jersey in the Tour de France; the retrospective disqualification of Saxo Bank’s Alberto Contador also sees him elevated to fifth overall in Paris.

Unsurprisingly, as the reigning Olympic champion form Beijing in 2008, the main focus of Sánchez’ season will be the defence of that title in London in the summer.

Sánchez will be joined in Andalucia by what the orange team describes as a “luxury” line up, which includes multiple Grand Tour stage winner Igor Antón. Despite missing out on the overall success that he was aiming for, the 28-year-old took stage victories in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in 2011; winning the prestigious Giro stage to Monte Zoncolan – where he held off the retrospectively disqualified race winner Contador – and the historic Vuelta stage into Bilbao – which marked the race’s return to Euskaltel-Euskaltel’s home Basque region for the first time in 33 years.

The majority of the team have already seen competition this season, with Egoi Martínez and Juanjo Oroz the only 2012 debutants. Mikel Astarloza rode all three of the races of the Challenge Mallorca – with the fourth being cancelled due to snow – and was competitive in the race series’ unofficial overall classification. Of the seven riders, Gorka Izagirre made the earliest start to the season, riding the Santos Tour Down Under, where he finished 40th overall.

The race begins on Saturday, February 18th with a 6km prologue in the town of San Fernando, in the province of Cádiz. The five-day race will feature a variety of terrain around Spain’s southern region, with the queen stage between Málaga and Lucena finishing at the top of a first category climb.

Euskaltel-Euskadi team for la Vuelta a Andalucia
Igor Antón, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Gorka Izagirre, Egoi Martínez, Juanjo Oroz and Samuel Sánchez

Stages
18 February - Prologue: San Fernando - San Fernando ITT (6km)
19 February - stage 1: Zahara de los Atunes - Benalmádena (197.9km)
20 February - stage 2: Málaga - Lucena (144.7km)
21 February - stage 3: Montemayor - Las Gabias (157.1km)
22 February - stage 4: Jaén - La Guardia de Jaén (135.7km)

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