Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has little left to dream about in his career, the Spaniard revealed after winning the overall Vuelta al Pais Vasco last Saturday for the first time. And it was not meant to sound negative. "Step by step, I have been realising all the dreams that I had since I was a kid," he said.
"To be on the podium at the Tour de France, as winner of the mountains competition, to get third overall, even though it didn't happen in the best way [following the doping-related sanction of Alberto Contador in 2010 - ed.], the Olympic medal and now, the Tour of the Basque Country," he told Marca. Sanchez also has five Vuelta a Espana stages to his account, one stage at the Tour de France and the GP Zürich Metzgete in 2006.
"At 34 years of age, my only dream left is to win a medal at the Worlds."
Clearly, the Spaniard will be focussing on this year's world championships in Limburg, Netherlands. The course involving several Classic climbs could be perfect for Sanchez, who for now has gained further confidence with his win in the Basque Country.
The final overall classification was set in stone by a mountainous and technical 18.9km time trial, and Sanchez was able to take the leadership from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). But he also admitted that he was "a little afraid" of the differences that reigning time trial world champion Tony Martin would be able to establish on the flat parts of the course. In the end, Martin finished third on the day, and Rodriguez ceded 21 seconds to Sanchez, finishing second overall at 12 seconds.
"The course was dangerous, but it was dangerous for everybody. Everyone takes the risks he wants to take, and all bikes have brakes. I took the right risks and I liked this time trial," Sanchez said.
He dedicated his victory to Euskaltel's general manager Manuel Madariaga. "Thanks to him, I've become a bike rider and I'm sure that he's even happier about this win than I am. This victory is not only satisfying for me and for the team, but also for our fans who have waited since 2003 when Iban Mayo won that another 'Euskaltel' takes this victory on home ground," Sanchez said.