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Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Euskaltel Euskadi placing its eggs in Olympic champion's basket
Samuel Sanchez has joined the chorus of riders talking about next year's edition of the Tour de France, the Olympic road race champion saying the French grand tour will be his main goal for the 2010 season.
With the likes of countryman and defending Tour champion Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso all vying for the title, Sanchez will need to be in stellar form. It's why he's already looking at his priorities next July. "It seems that I will do the Tour as a priority," Sanchez told Europa Press. "Last year it seemed as though I would go, but in the end we changed the schedule, so nothing is certain. There is much [preparation required] for the Tour," he added.
This season, Sanchez focused on the Vuelta a España, finishing second overall behind countryman Alejandro Valverde, who has also stated that next year's Tour de France will be his number one goal. While Sanchez admitted that he would have preferred more wins in 2009, Euskaltel Euskadi team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano remained positive about the season's outcomes.
"We started the year strong, winning in the Algarve with Koldo [Fernandez de Larrea]. The first victory at home came in [GP]Llodio with Samuel, who then got on the podium at the Vuelta al País Vasco, behind Contador, who is number one in the world.
"At the Tour [de France] we set out to win a stage and earn the team some respect, and got both. In the Vuelta a lot of people doubted the ability of Samuel to win, but we were to win and was second," said Gonzalez de Galdeano.
As for Sanchez's plans next year, "Samuel is excited to ride the Tour," admitted Gonzalez de Galdeano. It's been noted that the race may be decided through the Pyrenean stages - days that Sanchez says he will anticipate thanks to the proximity to home territory and the fans who will undoubtedly turn out in full force to cheer on their local heroes.
"There are four stages of an extremely high level, with a gruelling mountain, and a spectacular finale in the Tourmalet, which will be a big party for the Basque cycling," said Sanchez. "The road will be full of orange and we will feel like we're riding back in the Basque Country," he said.