By Brecht Decaluwé in Aurillac
With a well-timed attack on the tricky descent of the final climb, Luis León Sánchez soloed to his first ever Grand Tour win Friday in Aurillac. Sánchez crossed the line alone and threw his fist in the air before pointing to the sky, dedicating the victory to his deceased brother. "It's been three years now, since he died. My other brother - who plays football [for Levante] in the Spanish first division - does the same when he pulls off a great performance," Sánchez said.
Earlier this year Sánchez also won the seventh stage in Paris-Nice. Other impressive performances include the overall win in the 2005 Tour Down Under, a third place overall at the 2007 Paris-Nice and the Spanish time trial championship last month.
Just like his friend and team leader Alejandro Valverde, Sánchez is a man from the Murcia region of Spain. With his several attacks today he managed to bring Valverde into a good position during the race. "In the circumstances I could try my luck in the finale and I ended up riding in the front," said Sánchez.
The talented Spaniard is a future general classification rider, but currently he's a perfect team-mate for Valverde. At the post race press grill Sánchez said that Caisse d'Epargne isn't only trying to set up Valverde, but also former Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro. "Our goal in this Tour is to get Alejandro [Valverde] or Oscar [Pereiro] in the yellow jersey to Paris," he said.
"I'm lucky to be riding in a team with a lot of fantastic riders like Alejandro and Oscar," added Sánchez. "I hope to learn a lot from them during the next three to four years before I have a go in the general classification. I hope to improve my climbing skills in the high mountains before I can follow the example of other great young riders like Ricardo Riccò and Alberto Contador."