Sanchez denied another Tour de France stage win by Cavendish
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Sanchez denied another Tour de France stage win by Cavendish

by Kyle Moore at 3:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spaniard almost swipes stage 18 out of late break before Cav swoops past

Luis Leon SanchezHaving already saved the Tour de France for his Rabobank team, Luis Leon Sanchez almost grabbed a second stage win of the 2012 Tour de France out of a late escape on stage 18. Sanchez previously picked up stage 14 when his breakaway was let go, soloing the final 10km to deny Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

On Friday, Sanchez almost stole a second stage of the race, which would have been his fifth career Tour de France stage. The Spaniard went away in the closing kilometres with Nicolas Roche (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Nissan). The trio bridged up to a group made up of men from the day’s main break, and though there was little cooperation amongst them, they took it all the way into the finishing straight.

Roche led it out but Sanchez used his superior kick to come around. The Rabobank rider would have had the victory, but the sprinters had opened up behind, most notably Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling). The Manx Missile weaved in and out of several fading riders, having sprinted from a long way out, and then grabbed the slipstream of Sanchez.

Cavendish wasn’t there long, as he kicked again and blasted away to easily nab his second victory of the race. Sanchez could only sit back in the saddle and wave Cavendish off, the win out of the grasp of the Spaniard. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Sagan also sprinted around, as Sanchez had to settle for fourth, with Roche fifth.

Even after the tough loss, Sanchez still saw the positives at the end of the stage.

“I did not expect it to go this well,” he admitted afterward. “I wasn’t quite recovered from the severe stages yesterday and the day before. Of course I find it very unfortunate that I just did not make it, but I was no match for Cavendish today. I still have a positive feeling about this ride. Although we are a small team with very little left [Rabobank has just four riders remaining in the Tour – ed.], we rode seriously yet again for the victory.”

Sanchez could expect a similar scenario – trying to steal the win from the pure sprinters – in the Olympic road race one week from now, and indeed Sanchez said that his Tour has proved him to be at “a good starting point for the Olympics.”

With just a stable of four left to fight out most of the Tour’s final week, Rabobank has done well to play its part. On stage 18, the Dutch team missed the initial breakaway. With only a few other teams missing out, including Saur-Sojasun, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Omega Pharma-Quick Step, the spurned squads pushed a blistering pace throughout the day to bring back the escape. Bringing it back in range allowed Roche and Sanchez to spring their move.

“I was not super, but I was able to work again for the team,” said Rabobank rider Bram Tankink. “It was fifty kilometres to the finish so it was still a bit early for the three of us to start riding. Then when the gap started to go up, Nico [Verhoeven] knew that it really had to happen otherwise they would get away too far. Too bad that Luis could not finish it off, but it was a brave attempt.”

“I knew Luis was good and some thirty kilometres before the finish line he took a big turn on the front,” added team stalwart Laurens Ten Dam. “From that moment, I also drove the leading group to get back, or at least make the difference small enough that Luis could jump to the forefront. It's a shame that we couldn’t get it done, but we have to fight for the victory. It’s important.”

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