By Monika Prell
Samuel Sánchez, one of the leaders of the team Euskaltel Euskadi in this Tour de France, gave a press conference on Friday. The 30 year-old announced that he will try to win a stage, but downplayed his ambitions for the overall classification. The Asturian, who disputed two previous Tours de France, in 2002 and 2003, but never reached Paris, wants "to show that I am a new rider", according to the homepage of the team Euskaltel Euskadi.
Sánchez confessed that his memories of past Tours are not good. "I didn't participate for five years and now I am a different rider. I consider myself as a newcomer in the Tour. I hope that the third one will be a successful one and that I could do something important." Despite having made the podium in the Vuelta a España, he felt as if the Tour was not for him."I thought it was too big in every sense."
Sánchez will be one of the leaders of the team, along with Haimar Zubeldia and Mikel Astarloza. The Asturian described the objectives of the team: "We want to win a stage. Over the last years we did good Tours, but we lack a stage win since Roberto Laiseka and Iban Mayo were successful."
Along with deep respect for the race, Sánchez brings some good legs this year. "I am in a good form, I spent all the season preparing this event. For me it's a different race and a special challenge. I already notice the excitement of the beginning and I would like the Tour to start. The race will put you into your place and say what is your position." He confessed that during his first participations, he was afraid of this race, but now has respect for it. "Of course I am nervous, it's the best race of the world and you have to do it well."
He sees the first stage as adapted to his skills, even if he believes that the favourite to win is Alejandro Valverde. " He is in enviable form. It will be a dangerous day, very nervous and you will have to pay attention to avoid crashes and not to stay behind the other ones," explained Sánchez.
Gorka Gerrikagoitia, the sport director of Euskaltel Euskadi, announced that the Tour de France team "is one of the best ones we ever sent to the Tour, and we have chances to do a good race. We are dreaming of a stage win and to be amongst the best ones in the general classification." The rider with the best prospects is, according to the sport director, "Haimar Zubeldia, who is doing a very good season, finishing sixth in the Vuelta a Cataluña and fifth in the Dauphiné Libéré. He is in a great form", concluded Gerrikagoitia.