Samuel Sanchez aims for the Tour
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Samuel Sanchez aims for the Tour

by Jered Gruber at 3:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Euskaltel's Sammy Sanchez was a curious non-starter in last week's Ardennes Classics, but his absence was an apparent sign of his devotion to July's Grand Boucle. The Olympic road race champion, who has excelled in one day events as well as stage races, has set his sights entirely on one event in 2010: the Tour de France.

After a solid spring which included wins at the Klasika Primavera and the fourth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco to go along with armloads of top tens, Sanchez called his spring complete right before the Ardennes Triptych.

Next up for the rider from Oviedo, Asturias will be a solid period of training, which will culminate in June's major pre-Tour prep race and a date with Alpe d'Huez at the Dauphine Libere.

After that, Sanchez is undecided as to whether he'll race the Spanish Championships. Like most of the Tour de France favorites, he's allotting some special time to preview the cobblestones that will make the third stage of the Tour de France a potential general classification spoiler.

"Depending on how I'm going, I might also do the Spanish championships, but we also have to see the cobblestones in Belgium, because that will be a very dangerous stage in the Tour."

Sanchez is happy with his form and results so far in 2010, but doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself: "Today, I feel very strong, but I'm also cautious. It is too early to get into these assessments. We must look with respect at the Tour, because it is the best in the world. You cannot afford to make any mistakes. No matter how strong you are, if you make one mistake, you can be out of contention."

Sanchez will enter the Tour as an outside bet for the podium, but can be quietly confident in his steady upward progression over the last five years. Sanchez took his team's first ever Grand Tour podium in 2007 when he finished 3rd overall on home soil. He moved one step up on the Vuelta podium two years later with a 2nd place finish behind Alejandro Valverde last September.

He's not a stranger to the Tour de France either. He finished a solid 6th overall at the 2008 Tour de France and took home a number of solid placings as well: a 2nd place behind Carlos Sastre on the immortal slopes of Alpe d'Huez highlighted his Tour, but three other Top 10's underlined his ride.

Looking toward this year's Tour, Sanchez recognizes the potential historical nature of the race: "This year's Tour will be very special, because it also has the allure of the rivalry between Armstrong and Contador, but for me, Contador is the big favorite."

As for his goals for the rest of the season? Sanchez isn't willing to look too far ahead, but confesses that there are some possibilities for the latter part of 2010: "We must go step by step. After I finish the Tour de France, I will think about doing the Vuelta or the World Championships."

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