Luis León Sanchez pledges his support to Robert Gesink in the Tour de France
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Luis León Sanchez pledges his support to Robert Gesink in the Tour de France

by Ben Atkins at 9:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Rabobank’s big signing concedes his Dutch teammate is a better bet for the Grand Tours

luis leon sanchezAlthough he rode last year’s race as the leader of the Caisse d’Epargne team, new Rabobank signing Luis León Sanchez has pledged that he will support Robert Gesink in the Tour de France. In an interview with Dutch magazine NUSport, the Spanish rider conceded that, especially in the mountains, his younger Dutch teammate has a far better chance in the three-week race.

The 27-year-old, who finished fourth in last year’s UCI World Ranking, is also highly impressed with his new surroundings in the orange team. “Everything is taken very seriously,” he said. “I can grow with this team.”

Sanchez finished the 2010 Tour in 11th place, 14’21” behind race winner Alberto Contador. Almost all of that time was lost in the race’s mountain stages, which is the area he must work on if he wants to be a contender in the future.

“That’s where I lose too much time,” he admitted. “That’s what I must do better if I ever want to finish in a top position of one of the three Grand Tours.”

Before joining Rabobank, Sanchez sat down with team manager Erik Breukink to agree a race programme; the Spaniard is very happy that he will get opportunities to shine.

“I’ll get my chances, really,” he said. “In the Tour and Vuelta I will ride in support of Robert Gesink. I have no problem with that, he’s a better climber than me; I’ll support him one hundred percent.”

Gesink finished sixth overall in last year’s race, almost 5 minutes ahead of Sanchez; he was 7’30” behind then teammate Denis Menchov but, with the Russian now departed to Geox-TMC, Gesink will enjoy sole leadership. The 24-year-old recently took two stages and the overall classification in the Tour of Oman and has been tipped by Belgian legend Eddy Merckx as a possible future Tour winner.

“It’s a team of great ambition,” he said of his new Rabobank team, “In each race that it participates in there are good Rabobank riders; that increases my chances in different competitions.”

So far, Sanchez has made a solid start to 2011 with his new team; he rode all five races of the Mallorca Challenge, and this week finished ninth overall in the Volta ao Algarve.


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