Sunday in Paris-Nice, Luis León Sánchez was unable to repeat the feat of one month ago in the Tour Méditerranéen when he took the time trial stage and overall lead. The Spaniard of Caisse d'Epargne is pleased with his third place result behind Alberto Contador despite his intentions to win in the 9.3-kilometre stage.
"Even if I started in this first stage with the goal of winning it, which was not possible, I believe that I must be very happy because in front of a super Contador there was nothing else I could do," he said.
Sánchez finished third at seven seconds behind Contador (Astana) and two seconds behind Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream). His win in Méditerranéen and his stage one win in the Tour du Haut Var motivated him.
His team will support him for the overall win in the eight-day stage race known as the race to the sun, March 8 to 15. He is the past winner of the overall classification in the Tour Down Under and Vuelta a Mallorca.
"I came to Paris-Nice with the intention of trying to win the overall classification or at least finish amongst the top riders. My performance today [yesterday] increases my motivation."
The stage race covers three flat and rolling stages before the hard mountains of stages four, six, seven and eight.
"The fact that Contador is now the leader is a good thing for us because the team Astana is the one which will have to control the race. We have to take it easy during the next stages because from Friday on the race will be very hard."
The riders will face 195.5 kilometres to La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin today. Contador leads the overall by seven seconds over Brit Wiggins.