Sanchez, Freire and Valverde to target Olympic Gold for Spain
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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sanchez, Freire and Valverde to target Olympic Gold for Spain

by Shane Stokes at 6:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Olympics
 
Five man squad named for London Games

Oscar FreireThe Spanish cycling federation RFEC has named its selection for the London Olympic Games, with defending champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi), three time world champion Oscar Freire (Katusha), Alejandro Valverde, current Spanish road race champion José Joaquín Rojas (both Movistar) and Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) joining forces to try to achieve the best result for the country in the road race.

Of those, both of the Sanchez’s will ride the time trial.

Spanish national selector José Luis De Santos explained the choice as being the ‘best team possible,’ considering the need to target both road and time trial from the same squad.

“They are five rider who will compete in the Tour and will go to London in their best form of the year,” he said, according to EFE. “Each of them can have options according to how the race unfolds. They have experience in top events such the Games or the Worlds, and they have a pretty good relationship between each other, which is critical in a race like this.”

The road race will be the prime target for the quintet, with their characteristics making it possible that they can chase gold. In addition to that, De Santos concedes that there is just an outside chance of taking a top three finish in the race against the clock.

"We are aware that we are not at the level to fight for the podium, as this is a matter for specialists such as Martin, Cancellara or Wiggins, as we saw last year. But the two runners will do well.”

Freire is competing in what is perhaps his last season, and has set the Olympic Games and the world road race championships as his two top targets. He is aiming for his fourth win in the latter, which would be an absolute record.

Although he’s now 36 years of age, he had a very impressive start to the season. He clocked up victories on stages of the Santos Tour Down Under and the Vuelta a Andalucia, and was also second in both the E3 Harelbeke and Brabantse Pijl. A superb solo move almost earned him victory in the Amstel Gold Race, but he was passed by three others inside the final 100 metres.

He was both frustrated and motivated after the latter performance, saying that he wanted to win but also knew that it was possible for him to take victory on a very similar course at the worlds later this year.

Sanchez has also been racing strongly, the defending Olympic champion winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and netting second overall in the Volta a Catalunya. Valverde started well after returning from a long suspension, winning a stage and netting second overall in the Santos Tour Down Under, winning the Vuelta a Andalucia and netting third overall in Paris-Nice. However his spring Classics campaign was a quiet one, and included a disqualification from Liège-Bastogne-Liège for not following the correct route.

The Spanish Olympic team also includes mountain bike riders José Antonio Hermida, Carlos Coloma and Sergio Mantecón, plus track riders Leire Olaberría, Eloy Teruel, Pablo Aitor Bernal, Sebastián Mora, David Muntaner, Albert Torres, Juan Peralta and Hodei Mazkiarán.

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