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Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leads Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on Luz-Ardiden.
Olympic champion could join Contador if Basque team folds
Samuel Sanchez has confirmed that the future of Euskaltel-Euskadi is far from secure. The team's current sponsorship contract runs out at the end of next season, and further backing is still being negotiated.
"If things continue this way, then Euskaltel will disappear in 2012 and many people will be on the street. I really hope that they will announce the renewal of the sponsorship soon or another sponsor. This team deserves it," Sanchez told Marca.
The 33-year-old has been with the Basque outfit ever since he started his career eleven years ago, but he said he could also imagine riding for the team of his good friend Alberto Contador if Euskaltel really should fold. "If you asked anyone that question, he would say yes," Sanchez responded when asked whether he'd like to join Contador in the future. "He's one of the best in history. Moreover, I have shared the national jersey with him already and that was a pleasure."
In any case, Sanchez has high objectives for the coming Olympic year, where he wants to defend his title in London after hopefully finishing on the Tour de France podium again in Paris.
"I think that in 2012 I will be able to contend for it - that's what we are working on. My main characteristic is my regularity. I want to be better every year and next year I will continue to attack," said the 2011 stage and king of the mountains winner.
"I'm not sure which was more beautiful - the stage win [one stage 12 to Luz-Ardiden] or the jersey. Both were very emotional, but getting on the podium in Paris was also especially exciting," added the Spaniard, who finished sixth on general classification but was honoured on the Champs-Elysées as the race's overall best climber.
Sanchez, like many observers, thought the 2012 Tour de France route was especially suited to good time triallists. But he warned that the better climbers would not wait long to attack. "There are almost 100 kilometres against the clock, and this will mean that we, the climbers, will make very severe attacks in order to make a selection. For the fans, it will be a spectacular Tour," he promised.