Samuel Sanchez targets 2011 Tour de France podium

2010 Tour fourth placing only regret for Euskaltel rider

Samuel Sanchez is enjoying the last few days of his vacation before joining Euskaltel-Euskadi's first team get-together this coming Monday, and starting the training which he hopes will put him on the podium of the Tour de France.

This season was not a bad one for the Olympic champion, although according to Sanchez he missed his biggest goal.  “I can't complain,” he told the Spanish website Marca.  “I've been improving year after year, and in 2010 the only thing I regret is not having reached the podium in Paris.

Sanchez had been in third place overall in the Tour de France going into the penultimate stage's time trial, but then lost a full two minutes to Denis Menchov who took over the final podium spot for him.

Other than that, it was a successful year for him, even if he just missed out on the podiums at the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, and Criterium International.  His luck changed at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where he won a stage and took the points jersey.  From there, Sanchez went on to win the Klasika Primavera. 

His fourth placing in the Tour was followed by a ninth in the Clasica San Sebastian, with his breakthrough coming in the Vuelta a Burgos, where he took two stages on his way to the overall title.  The Olympic champion closed out his season with sixth place finishes in Montreal and the Giro di Lombardia.

Next year, the Tour will once again be his primary goal  “If I was able to be fourth this year after the bad luck I had (a crash on the Tourmalet - ed.), then I can be optimistic that in 2011 I will be back in the fight for the podium.”

The rest of his season schedule has not yet been determined.  “On Monday we will focus on team planning. The Tour is set because it is the best race in the world and very important, but I do not know what I will do before July.”

It is also possible that Sanchez will ride the Vuelta a España, where he has finished second and third in the past, winning a total of five stages.  “The Vuelta has given me a lot in my career.  But I will fight for the maximum.”

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