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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) celebrates stage victory at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Euskaltel Euskadi rider dedicates victory to lost friends
"I am very satisfied. It's important to pick the fruits of so much effort and dedication," said Sanchez, who gave the team its third victory of 2013.
"It will be very good for the team to start the Tour de France after this prestigious victory. Personally, I will not be there, because I will be in a rest period, but because we have not won much this season, it's perfect to achieve this success."
Saturday's queen stage covered 187.5km from Le Pont-de-Claix and Superdévoluy. It included several major climbs: Superdévoluy (Cat. 3), Alpe d'Huez (HC), Col de Sarenne (Cat. 2), Col d'Ornon (Cat. 1) and Col du Noyer (Cat. 1).
Sanchez launched his attack with a little over a mile to the top of the Col du Noyer, an 11.3km climb with grades from 7.2% to 11%. He was joined by Jacob Fuglsang (Astana).
On the final climb up Superdevoluy, Sanchez played his cards perfectly and scored an emotional victory. His success bumped him up from 20th to 12th in the general classification.
"I suffered a lot, especially in the last three kilometers," said Sanchez. "Fuglsang was very strong, but I put everything I had to pass him at the end. The team has worked very well throughout the day, took care of me perfectly, and we achieved the dream ending. "
He dedicated his victory to his friend Victor Cabedo, who died not long ago and another friend, Alejandro, who died barely two weeks ago. "This victory is for them," said Sanchez.