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Spain's Samuel Sanchez in relaxed mood at the 2012 Tour de France
2008 Olympic champion to round out career with Basque squad
2008 Olympic road-race champion and 2011 Tour de France King of the Mountains winner Samuel Sanchez will race for three more seasons with his current team, Euskaltel, who have - according to the Basque media - also signed three more of their top riders, Igor Anton, Mikel Landa and Jon Izaguirre for another two seasons.
Sánchez, 34, has raced for Euskaltel-Euskadi ever since he turned pro in 2000, during which time he has developed into one of cycling’s leading professionals. Amongst his top wins are the Tour of the Basque Country (2012), the stage to Luz Ardiden of the 2011 Tour, the 2008 Olympic road-race and the now defunct Championship of Zurich classic (2006).
After crashing out injured in the Tour de France, Sanchez has returned to racing today on what is home soil for his team, [Tuesday] in the Clásica San Sebastian. His program will not, as had been previously announced, include the Vuelta a España, although he is expected to race in the world championships, Il Lombardia (The Tour of Lombardy) and the two Chinese ProTour stage races.
Giro and Vuelta stage winner Igor Anton - who took one of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s most important victories ever, a stage win in Bilbao on the Vuelta’s return to the Basque Country after a three-decade absence - has also signed for Euskaltel, who are set to expand their team from 24 to 28 for 2013.
Sánchez’s renewal with his current team makes it very likely that he will pull down the curtain on his career with Euskaltel-Euskadi, with the end of 2015 the most likely date.
Another key figure in Basque cycling who is quitting rather sooner is Jaime Ugarte, the organiser of the Clásica San Sebastian and Vuelta al País Vasco for the last 32 years and who is standing down after today’s race.