Euskaltel team leader Samuel Sánchez will go into the Giro d’Italia with the specific aim of a stage win, but believes that a podium finish is “not impossible”. Speaking at a press conference at Euskaltel’s HQ in the Basque Country, the Spanish veteran said, “Two places on the podium are almost assured, those of Nibali and Wiggins. But there’s another one up for grabs but it’s going to cost a lot to take it.”
The 35-year-old has had a comparatively quiet start to the season, his best finish coming on the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, when he placed second behind Sky’s Richie Porte. But he is quietly confident of his prospects. “I’m going into the Giro as I want to and the real and easiest goal is to win a stage, which would be nice having already won stages in the Tour and the Vuelta, but I will also be keeping an eye on the GC.
“The stages that most suit my characteristics are those that will decide the race and if I perform well on them I will be well placed overall,” he said.
Sánchez said as many as 10 riders are capable of finishing on the podium, and described the possibility of him being one of the three who makes it as “an achievable goal”. Backing this up, he pointed out he has twice finished on the Vuelta podium and also taken “fourth in the Tour”. The official Tour records from that 2010 Tour list him as third following the disqualification of winner Alberto Contador.
He picked out Sky’s Bradley Wiggins as the favourite “because of the 55km time trial”, but added that the Giro is “a very unpredictable race”. He described the race as being complicated from the very first day, saying the route as a whole “and especially stages 19 and 20, is terrifying”.
Euskaltel team manager Igor González de Galdeano expressed his confidence in his team leader, saying this is “a Giro that suits Samuel well”. González de Galdeano said he is also happy with the shortness of the second stage team time trial, as the time Euskaltel are likely to lose to teams such as Sky and Astana shouldn’t compromise Sánchez’s GC hopes too much.