Holding the title as arguably one of the best descenders in the peloton was of no help to Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the opening stage at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco - Tour of the Basque Country. Sánchez lost five seconds to a number of the general classification hopefuls but suggests that the demanding six-stage race will decide the overall winner and not the small deficit he will take into Stage 2.
The winner of Pais Vasco's overall classification in 2012 was one of many who found themselves in a frantic chase to the finish line after a crash occurred inside the final 10km of the 156km stage. A group 17 riders hurtled down the technical road into the finishing city of Elgoibar with Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) seen taking huge risks in order to gain valuable seconds. Contador himself suggested he was not fully aware of what happened behind him but certainly pushed the leading group to the limit before the road eventually flattened out.
Sánchez, while obviously disappointed to lose time on the first day, ntoed the difficult parcour of the race and suggested that there would be plenty of other opportunities to make up for lost time. A five-second loss will not decide the race, added the former Olympic road race champion.
"It was a demanding stage, as they will all be in this race," Sánchez told Biciclismo. "At a race as hard as this, five seconds will not be decisive, but nobody likes to start by losing time.
"Falls are part of cycling, this time we had no fortune, but there was no getting around it. Tomorrow we have a new stage and further work to do.
"There are still a lot of options and we have kept our objectives intact. We will have to stay focused every day and make sure we are consistent," he added.
Sánchez most recent victory is fast approaching one year ago when at this exact tour he won Stage 3 on the way to the overall and the points classification.