Ahead of the Giro d'Italia, in May, the talk has been about Vincenzo Nibali, Bradley Wiggins and Ryder Hesjedal. For most, they are the main contenders for the Giro podium. Euskaltel-Euskadi leader Samuel Sánchez is hoping to infiltrate that group and make it onto the podium.
"I have stage victories and podiums in the Vuelta and the Tour," Sánchez says to Cycling News HD. "So I would like to enter into the club that has had victories in all three grand tours. It would be a great dream come reality." Sánchez has three grand tour podiums to his name. He took third and second at the Vuelta a España in 2007 and 2009. He also inherited third at the 2010 Tour de France after his good friend Alberto Contador was disqualified.
It has been eight years since Sánchez took on the Corsa Rosa. The Spaniard finished 17 on that occasion, so why return after so long? "I fell in love with the Giro in 2005," he says. "I thought the race had an impressive atmosphere, the towns were decorated in pink, the side of the road was full of fans and the hills were covered in bicycles.
"The tifosi are the legacy of the purest cycling. As the years have past I have taken longer to get back (to the race) than I would have liked."
So far this season the Euskaltel rider has failed to replicate his performances from 2012, where he won the Vuelta a País Vasco. He still remains confident about his form ahead of the first grand tour of the year. "At Tirreno-Adriatico I was very competitive and made fifth on the hardest day," says Sánchez. "In the Vuelta al País Vasco I was a place off the win on the Queen stage. I have been a professional for 14 years and I have my baggage and my experience when preparing for my objectives."
The Giro d'Italia starts on May 4th in Naples and finishes May 26th in Brescia.
Cycling News HD
For the full interview with Samuel Sánchez download this week's issue of Cycling News HD. Issue 52 looks back at the Ardennes Classics. Stunning photos and in depth coverage of Dan Martin's win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Daniel Moreno's at Flèche Wallonne. Plus full coverage of Vincenzo Nibali's overall glory at the Giro del Trentino. Previews of the key stages of the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of Turkey.
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