Sanchez strong in De Panne

Although the stage honours had all been wrapped up by Leif Hoste, Bernhard Eisel and Gert Steegmans...

Although the stage honours had all been wrapped up by Leif Hoste, Bernhard Eisel and Gert Steegmans in the first stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne, Liberty Seguros' Luis León Sanchez produced a great ride in the final 30 km to get within 12 seconds of the leaders at the finish.

Sanchez had got himself into a group of 12 riders that was chasing the leading trio, but the group could never close the gap to less than a minute. On the Leberg and then the Berendries on the final lap, Sanchez made his move. "Approximately 30 kilometres to go, I jumped alone because I had good legs and also because Manolo ordered me, to try to see if I could take back the minute and a half that they had."

Sanchez rode powerfully over the final kilometres to carve all but 12 seconds off the gap that no-one else could close. On the general classification, thanks to time bonuses, he sits 25 seconds behind Hoste. His hopes now rest on the final day's time trial. "I don't know why, but double stages have always been good for me, like in Alcobendas, where I won the time trial twice. Here also there is a double stage on the last day and I expect to take advantage of the opportunity."

Nevertheless, Sanchez is starting to feel the mental tiredness that a lot of racing brings. "Since Australia, I am competing in everything, and I do not believe that I'm going better, although I do not feel tired either. Maybe I am more exhausted mentally than in my legs after so many races."

This race will be his last before a rest period, then Sanchez will resume at Alcobendas and the Volta a Catalunya as preparation for the Tour de France.

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