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Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sanchez waves to the crowd.
Olympic champion on Tour of the Basque Country and Euskaltel-Euskadi
Samuel Sanchez is unconcerned by his Euskaltel-Euskadi team’s lack of victories to date in 2012 and is confident that the Basque squad will get off the mark in the coming weeks, as the Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country hone into view.
“I feel good and we shouldn’t get bothered that we haven’t had results,” Sanchez told Biciciclismo.com. “We’ve always been a bit of a ‘lazy’ team in that regard. Maybe it’s because the climate in the north doesn’t have the sun that they get in the south or the east. The results will come; our first win is normally in this period. Our month is April.”
Sanchez will be expected to be among the contenders at next week’s Volta a Catalunya, but the Tour of the Basque Country is of particular importance for his squad. “At the Basque Country, it’s always difficult to shine precisely because it’s our home race,” he said. “If my form is like it has been in recent years, there’s no reason why I can’t be fighting for the win.
“The time trial on the last day is very complicated and will decide the race. The two finishes at altitude, Arrate and Ibardin, will remove some riders from the general classification.”
The very running of the Tour of the Basque Country was in doubt until the recent announcement that the Sababell Guipuzcoano bank would step in as sponsor for the next two seasons. “It would have been very serious if the Tour of the Basque Country had disappeared,” Sanchez said. “It’s a classic, with the best fans.”
While the biggest Basque race is safe, for now at least, the future of its banner team is rather less certain. Team manager Miguel Madariaga suggested last month that Euskaltel-Euskadi would need increased financial backing if it were to continue at WorldTour level.
“We have to focus on riding and getting good results,” Sanchez said. “The truth is that we want to know if there is going to be a team as soon as possible, because then all the signings for next year start and you have other teams knocking on your door.”
Nonetheless, the Olympic champion is hopeful that the famous orange-clad squad will still be in the WorldTour peloton next season. “Personally, I think Euskaltel-Euskadi will continue,” he said. “If not some people might have difficulties finding a place. In my case, I have accumulated a lot of points that could bring teams up or down a division.”