One year ago, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez finished fifth in the Züri Metzgete (Championship of Zurich). One year later he finds himself the winner of this event, along the way collecting two stage victories in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, a stage in the Vuelta a Asturias, and a stage win and top ten overall in the Vuelta a España. Add to this list a fourth place at the worlds, and second at Flèche Wallonne, both times a place behind ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde to whom he is also second in the proTour standings with two rounds to go. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez caught up with him last week in his hometown of Oviedo while he was preparing himself for the Championship of Zurich, a race in which he became the Basque team's first winner of a one day classic:
To sum up things up neatly, Sanchez is finishing what seems to be his very best season so far. In contrast to the trajectory of his career this year, Samuel is one of the best riders at descending in the international peloton together with Il Falco, Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) and others. He won in Cuenca in the Vuelta a España after an almost suicidal ride down through the streets of that city. Days later, he showed he was only getting stronger as the race continued by finishing second in the time trial on stage 20.
"I think I did very well in the Vuelta a España," said Sanchez. "I hoped to be maybe a little bit ahead in the general [classification], among the top five. I went to the Vuelta maybe to fight for the podium. What happens is that sometimes the race circumstances don't go like one wants. But I keep on being happy because I achieved one stage win."
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