By Monika Prell
With only four days until the start of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the stars were busy passing the role of favourite to each other. Wednesday, Caisse d'Epargne racer Alejandro Valverde named Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Alberto Contador (Team Discovery), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval Prodir), and José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval Prodir) as his favourites.
Today, Gil listed his to Diario Vasco. "I'm thinking of Contador, Valverde, and Di Luca, who showed in Italy that he has become competitive again." Gil said he does not "see a unique favourite. In principle, there is a big equality. Later, we will see what happens in the race."
Gil sees some weak points in his rivals. "Contador will be strong, but he was already in a very good competition form in Paris - Nice. For Valverde, perhaps this race has too many ascents. The race is better suited for a pure climber than for him." Gil considers the race "very open," which could be good for his Saunier Duval team.
Indeed, Gil does see himself as a favourite. "I'm a quite strong cyclist when it comes to races of six or seven days. In those, I prepare very well, so I have confidence in this Vuelta al Pais Vasco."
Meanwhile another Spanish favourite Samuel Sánchez, who finished sixth in the last year's edition, said he considered Contador and Valverde as his biggest rivals. "I competed together with Alberto Contador [in] Paris - Nice. He won and repeated his win in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Valverde has a good quality; he's surely a favourite. And then there are always other cyclists who are competing well and who can fight for the victory."
Sánchez said he is in "good" form and has "trained very well." But now he has to show it in the race. His team is ambitious to do well in their home race.