Luis Leon Sanchez eyes Ardennes glory
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Luis Leon Sanchez eyes Ardennes glory

by Jered Gruber at 1:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Luis Leon Sanchez's almost perfect start to 2010 continued at the Volta Catalunya this week. The Caisse d'Epargne all-around threat finished 4th, just 45 seconds behind Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez and only two seconds off of final podium occupant, Cofidis' Rein Taaramae.

"Falling just off the podium is certainly a little disappointing. However, I cannot complain because after finishing Paris-Nice in the top three, I have once again demonstrated that we can count on me in these types of stage races, and I am able to fight every day to try to win."

Sanchez has ridden into the overall top five four times in stage races so far this season: 2nd overall at the Volta ao Algarve, 2nd overall at the Tour Down Under, 3rd overall at Paris-Nice, and this weekend, 4th overall at the Volta Catalunya. Sanchez has two wins in those stage races to his credit so far in 2010 - the first came in January at the Tour Down Under in Stage 5, and the second came a month later at the Volta ao Algarve's Stage 1 time trial, where he managed to take a significant scalp in teammate Alberto Contador.

Sanchez lamented missing out on his fourth overall podium this season: "We tried to get on the podium and get a stage win, but in the end, they both eluded us. Most important of all is that I could once again count on the full support of my teammates. They have more confidence in me and are present at every moment of the race."

Sanchez's stock within Caisse d'Epargne is on the rise as their team's superstar looks set to fall off the charts completely. Alejandro Valverde's days as an active racer appear to be numbered after his doping ban was upheld in Italy by CAS - it seems to be only a matter of time before he is handed a worldwide ban, which would open the doors fully for Sanchez to assume leadership at this July's Grand Boucle.

That is of course not the tops on the list of priorities for Sanchez at the moment. There's a more pressing matter, a series of races, which should suit his abilities perfectly: the Ardennes Triptych: Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. As preparation for the Ardennes Classics, Sanchez has opted to add the Circuit de la Sarthe to his schedule, which starts on April 6th.

"I initially thought I might rest a little before the Ardennes, but experience has shown me that staying out of racing too long does not suit me. I will present myself confidently at the start of the French race, but there will be no pressure - I'll wait and see how things go."

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