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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Dutch team aiming to guarantee major tour starts in 2011
Vacansoleil have made what is described in the Spanish press as “a large offer” to sign Samuel Sánchez from Euskaltel-Euskadi. Having already confirmed the signing of Belgian Classics specialist Stijn Devolder, the Dutch pro continental outfit are reported to have offered Sánchez a lucrative two-year deal, plus the option of bringing two riders of his own choosing with him.
Sánchez, whose contract with Euskaltel is up at the end of the year, was already widely coveted before he finished fourth in the Tour de France. The 32-year-old Spaniard has received an offer to extend his contract with Euskaltel. He has indicated that he would prefer to stay with the team with which he has spent his entire professional career.
According to El Diario Vasco, Euskaltel are obliged to match any offers Sánchez receives from elsewhere, but a severe budgetary cut may complicate efforts to do so. Team manager Miguel Madariaga told Cyclingnews during the final week of the Tour that his team’s budget is almost certain to be cut by 20 per cen for next season.
Having missed out on invites to all three major tours this season, Vacansoleil are determined to ensure their participation in the biggest events in 2011, including the Tour de France. Signing Sánchez, who was lying eighth in the UCI world ranking prior to the San Sebastián Classic, could boost the Dutch squad into the top 17 teams in the world, thus guaranteeing them a place in the biggest events on the world calendar.