Today's stage to Morzine is one of the most important so far in this year's Tour, according to Luis Leon Sanchez. The Caisse d'Epargne captain says that these climbs will let the top riders gauge one another's condition.
”I think the stage to Morzine is really important because it is going to give an idea of how every rider is feeling,” he told Cyclingnews. “I will try to grasp any chance to win a stage if that is possible.”
The Spaniard is looking for a repeat winner of the Tour this year. “I think that the big favourite is Alberto Contador, I think he is stronger than Armstrong and I wish him the best. Until now both Contador and Armstrong are being carefully protected by their teams but we will see in the next days.”
Sanchez finished in the favourites' group 1:47 down on Saturday's first mountain stage, and is currently 13th overall, at 3:11.
The first week of the Tour was “quite nervous for all the riders, with the crashes. The wind in the Dutch stage and the cobbles caused stress in the bunch,” he said. “Now I hope the weather conditions will improve because this extreme heat makes everybody feel tired. Anyway, I am satisfied because I did not have any crashes nor lose much time to the favourites.”
The cobblestone stage to Arenberg was quite stressful to many of the riders, Sanchez noted. While they were not new to him, he was not happy with the inclusion in the Tour.
“In my first and second year as professional I took part in some of the classics, so it was not a new experience for me. I do not like them in a three-week race like the Tour de France, but I understand that the organisation wants to pay tribute to the history of cycling and attract the public.”
In the absence of Alejandro Valverde, currently serving a worldwide doping ban, Sanchez is the team's captain at the Tour. He praised his teammates for helping to relieve any pressure on him. “I am not feeling any pressure because you cannot do anything in cycling as a leader without your teammates; the nine riders have to carry on with a plan.”