Luis León Sánchez probably didn’t expect much from his Tour de France after he was involved in a heavy fall during the first road stage of the race. He was seen patrolling the rear of the peloton with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) as both riders struggled through day after day, nursing their injuries. Sánchez didn’t have any fractures and if anything, this may have allowed his legs to ride into the Tour without too much pressure on a result. As his wrists healed, he began searching for a victory - which he finally captured at the end of stage 14 from Limoux to Foix.
He tried his luck again in finale of stage 18 however, Mark Cavendish (Sky) ensured that the Spaniard would not collect his second Tour victory. If it wasn’t for Cavendish’s amazing turn of speed, Sánchez would have likely walked away from the 2012 edition with two stage wins.
"I did not expect it to go so well. Apparently I had recovered quite well from the difficult stages yesterday and the day before yesterday. Of course I’m really sorry that I just didn’t make it, but Cavendish was no match for anyone today," Sánchez said following stage 18.
His run of strong showings was completed in the final time trial when he held the quickest time for most of the day. Rider after rider fell short of his time until Sky’s Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins were on course. He eventually finished in third place but was happy with his result.
"Regarding the Olympic Games, this is a nice confirmation. This is an excellent result. I also found it important to finish the Tour properly, especially after my wrist injury at the beginning of the competition. After my crash in the first stage, I took it easy for a while in order to recover, and to be able to establish some good results towards the end of the Tour. That worked," said Sánchez.
"His cadence was very good out there. He did not miss a beat. We had confidence from the start. And despite it all, the team was in a winning mood this week. Once things start going well, you can still accomplish stuff with fewer guys. Luis Leon was definitely feeling that way. He’s been our figurehead this week. So you can tell how important it was that he stayed in the race in the first week," said sports director Nico Verhoeven.
Sánchez will now turn his attention to the road race and time trial at the London Olympics where he is aiming for the top spot on the podium.
I’m happy I can go home tomorrow and see my daughter again. Now I’ve got a week to rest and recover my strength for the Olympic Games. I’d like to be champion there," he said.