By Antonio J. Salmerón
Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sánchez, who carried out a spectacular duel with Alejandro Valverde in the Criterium of Murcia of last Sunday, said to Cyclingnews to be "prepared to assume the leadership" of the Basque ProTour squad, although he clarified that, "there are also other important riders in Euskaltel-Euskadi, so that there is a shared leadership."
Sánchez recognizes that the departure of Iban Mayo to the Saunier Duval-Prodir "leaves an empty spot in the Euskaltel-Euskadi, but mainly, in Basque cycling, where Mayo continues being the most important."
In 2006, Sánchez obtained his best results that until now "had avoided me", and hopes to also follow the success "going forward." At the moment, he does not clearly know which races will make up his 2007 calendar, "but it could be similar to this season", leaving open the doors to his participation in the Tour of France, which he sacrificed in 2006 to be able to be in proper condition for the Vuelta a España.
"I demonstrated in the Vuelta that I can fight to be on the podium of a grand tour, so why not also in the Tour?" he asked.