Luis Leon Sanchez looking to “be close” in Ardennes Classics

Spaniard comfortable going into third year with Dutch team

Luis Leon Sanchez will see what he can do in the Ardennes Classics and enjoy his freedom to ride for himself in the latter part of the coming season. It will be his third year with the team to be known as the Blanco Pro Cycling Team.

“I want to be competitive from the outset and start the year well,” he told  “I like to start fast. On the one hand, we have to win the famous points but my priority will be WorldTour races, starting with Tirreno.”

He has the Ardennes Classics on his racing calendar, where he “will have more freedom, because (Robert) Gesink is concentrating on the Giro (d'Italia) and won't ride them. They are races which I like but they are difficult to win. The finale in Fleche (Wallonne) is to explosive, but I can be close in Amstel (Gold Race) and Liege(-Bastogne-Liege).”

Sanchez has a full schedule up to the Tour de France, and afterwards he hopes to ride the Clasica San Sebastian and defend the title he won there this year.

That was only one of seven victories he had this year, including a stage at the Tour de France. It was a marked change from his first year with Dutch team Rabobank, where he confessed the transition to a non-Spanish team was more difficult that expected.

In 2012, “Psychologically, I was stronger. I've been more focused and knew my situation. And I want to follow that line. I've always loved to train right and race a lot, and that's what I did in 2012, unlike last year where everything went wrong. I like going to the races ever with some ambition and I hope to do so next year.”

He and he other riders got the news of Rabobank withdrawing as sponsor only an hour before the public announcement. There was “some nervousness” at first, but a ter confirmation that the contracts would be honoured financially, things calmed down. “Indeed, it is almost the same structure, just changing the name.”

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