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Samuel Sánchez

Samuel Sanchez (BMC)

Samuel Sánchez blog: It's been a hard but satisfying Giro d'Italia

Samuel Sánchez
June 01, 2014, 19:35 BST,
June 02, 2014, 4:34 BST

BMC rider leaves Italy with no regrets

The Giro d'Italia is finally over and now I can’t wait to get home. But before I switch off for a few days I wanted to share my final thoughts in my final blog from the race.

It's been a hard but satisfying Giro d'Italia for lots of reasons. The Giro is always hard for everybody because it's a difficult race; it's not similar to the Vuelta or the Tour, it has its own kind of logic, as we saw on some stages like the Montecassino or Bari.

The hardest part of the whole Giro was the weather and its impact on the race each day. That was especially the case on the Val Martello stage. On the descent of the Stelvio because of the cold, we were on the limit of what is possible in terms of physical effort, we could hardly keep control of our bikes. People think the racing is hard and it is, but its moments like the Stelvio that make the Giro so hard to handle.

For me personally it's also been a difficult Giro. I was involved in the Montecassino crash. I went down as the peloton was racing at 70 km/h and I was injured and had a lot of problems. But my efforts to carry on and fight the pain have been rewarded right up to the end of the race by what Cadel and all my teammates have said about me and how the whole team has raced.

There has been a lot of satisfaction for the BMC team, starting from when we did a good team time trial in Belfast. Cadel was going really well in the first ten days, as were the team and we enjoyed controlling the race when Cadel was in the leader's pink jersey. He gave 100% and I think we all gave 100% too. When somebody gives 100% to the team and in the race, you can't ask for more.

Obviously I've got a lot of personal memories I'll take home with me from the Giro. There's been lots of talk about the Val Martello stage but if you talk to riders, the stage Savona was one of the toughest of the race. Even if there was a big break and Michael Rogers won alone, it was 250km long, we went full gas from the word go and there wasn't a moment's rest to be honest. That made it the hardest day for me.

Most riders will get some time off after finishing the Giro d'Italia but not me. I'll be heading home on Monday and, then I've got the GP Kanton Aargau race in Switzerland on June 12 and then the ZLM Toer, then I'll be easing back. I'm not going to be doing the Tour de France, it's time to rest.

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) waits to begin racing

I'm amazed I didn't break anything

Samuel Sánchez
May 16, 2014, 8:29 BST,
May 16, 2014, 8:37 BST

Three crashes but I'm still in good shape

I have had more crashes here in the last three stages than in the whole of any other Grand Tour I’ve done, starting with one close to the signing-on in the Bari stage and finishing - so far - with that big one yesterday [stage six].

The first crash happened when I was going at about one kilometre an hour, it had just started to rain and I was on these typical smooth Italian paving stones and bang! I came down. (Orica-GreenEdge rider) Ivan Santaromita went down as well at exactly the same time in exactly the same place.

The second was on the climb at the finish [of stage five], on the first lap we went through there and then the third was - obviously - in that huge crash yesterday [stage six.] I’m just amazed I’ve not broken anything. I went down at 60 kilometres an hour and went skidding along the ground for quite a period of time. I’ve got bruising, but nothing is broken.

It was an awful crash. I guess the number of riders who are injured must be a very long one. What happened to me was that the riders ahead of me went down and I got pushed over by riders coming up behind, so I fell. It’s one of those situations where you’re trapped in the middle of it, you can’t do anything and all you can do is wonder - as you’re falling - what the heck is going to happen to you. It was a really big crash. We were going very, very fast at the time and then I heard somebody hit a patch of petrol. Total chaos: or as the Italians say un casino [a real mess].

Some people say it happened because of the road narrowing down for the roundabout. But I don’t think so. When the road simply gets narrower, everybody brakes, they know what they have to do to avoid a crash and everybody gets round it. But when a road is very slippery, and somebody brakes, if there’s petrol on the road then everybody goes down.

The thing is when somebody at the front of the bunch crashes, then everybody crashes. And almost everybody did crash, apart from 10 or 12 riders.

Then the problem isn’t that you crash yourself, I don’t tend to have crashes, it’s when somebody rides into you from behind and they make you fall. When there’s a crash like that, you’ve nowhere to go, the guys ahead go down, the ones behind hear it happening and that’s it. But I’ve never crashed so many times in such a short period of time in a Grand Tour.

But hey, I got through. I was one of the lucky ones. There’s nothing broken. I could get up quickly, saw my bike was all right and I went on. My radio was still working, and then in those circumstances you’re all talking, asking questions and answering, all 19 to the dozen - ‘who’s fallen? who’s ahead? who’s behind? Cadel’s ahead? ok, ok, keep going, keep going, watch out at the entrance to Cassino, it [the road surface] is bad, stay focused, the road’s still slippery’ - then I just kept going.

Beyond that, I’m in pretty good shape myself. The team capo [leader - Cadel Evans] is in very good shape too and going well, we didn’t fall off and we have to go on working. It’s day by day, things can always go wrong at any point. We’ve only been racing six days and it feels like we’ve been in this race for at least two weeks!

Sammy Sanchez in the time trial

I'm Cadel's last man in the mountains

Samuel Sánchez
May 08, 2014, 21:43 BST,
May 08, 2014, 21:48 BST

We can be up there in the TTT

I’m in good shape here, very pleased to be back in the Giro d’Italia, and it’s very motivating, too, because Cadel is clearly in good shape. In [the Giro di] Trentino he was at his most aggressive, constantly on the attack and able to take home both a stage victory and the overall win.

That kind of success immediately has a galvanizing effect for the entire team, it moves everybody up a level, and it makes us want to get down to racing and start to see where we are relative to our rivals and what we can do.

A lot of these early stages now are ones which you just want to get through, avoid the crashes, not suffer too much in the bad weather and take it from there. Just get into a routine, really.

I’m not sure what we can do in Friday’s team time trial, but we’re not ruling anything out, we’ll be giving it everything. We know that some teams have a real chance of winning and I think we should be up there in the top four or so. There’s also Giant-Shimano, Lotto [Belisol], Belkin, Orica-GreenEDGE, Sky...they’re also sure to do very well. But we can be up there in the fight.

For me this is the first time ever, too, that I go into a Grand Tour purely working for another rider, so it’s the start of a new phase in my career. This time I won’t be the rider with the responsibility [of getting a top result in gc], instead the final result will belong to Cadel. But everybody on the team takes part in the hard work of putting him in the best position to get that result.

My job is a very responsible one, because I’ll maybe be the last man there for Cadel, so the minimum requirement is that I have to be at a similar level in terms of form, staying with him for as long as I can.

I have done 21 days of racing this year prior to here and that’s ideal, I’ve done them all at a very similar kind of pace, with my last day’s racing in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Racing at the right kind of pace was what worried me the most coming into this Giro and that’s actually gone well.

This is a beautiful place, but it’s been difficult in terms of the weather. Yesterday [Wednesday] we got really soaked training, today [Thursday] we had to get up really early to be sure we weren’t going get wet again and tomorrow, in theory, it shouldn’t be too bad in terms of rain.

Having a wet start to a Grand Tour is a real problem, above all because you get so many crashes anyway when you’ve got so many in-form riders, all of them really raring to go and in a very big bunch going at top speed down very narrow roads. Add in the rain and it’s dangerous for the race itself, because one of the top names can end up going home early because of a crash. Nobody wants that - neither the team, nor the riders, nor the race nor the fans.

My one big regret so far is that I haven’t been able to try any local food or drink - we’ve got our own cook here and it’s not been possible. I was lucky to race in the Tour of Britain a couple of years ago and the areas we went through then and those we’re seeing here in Northern Ireland are very similar to my home region, to Asturias. It’s not as mountainous maybe, but it’s equally pastoral. Lots of cows.

I get the impression people here got a very similar attitude to life to the people from Asturias, too - they like good, solid home food and drink. And I really like the way that they’ve been able to bring the Giro to a place like here, somewhere a Grand Tour has never been before, so that cycling can go on expanding into new markets and gaining new fans. It’s what we need as a sport.

Samuel Sánchez

The BMC Racing Team rider outlines how he will be supporting Cadel Evans in the Australian’s bid to take the Giro d’Italia