Samuel Sánchez remains tight-lipped about his plans for the 2014 season, but he has revealed his interest in the burgeoning cycling season in the United Arab Emirates. While holidaying in Dubai with his family, the 2008 Olympic road champion has spent considerable time with UAE Cycling Federation president Osama al Shafar, and has confessed he is interested in having an advisory role with that federation when he has retired from racing.
Al Shafar, who also heads the Emirati Sky Dive team that has its sights set on entering the WorldTour in 2015 or 2016, invited Sánchez to his home during the Spaniard's recent stay in Dubai. The pair discussed both the future objectives for the Sky Dive team, which will feature Spanish veteran Paco Mancebo as its leader next season, and the UAE federation's goals for cycling in the region.
"It's a spectacular country, like another world," Sánchez told Marca.com after his return to Spain. "From the very first moment, I had fantastic reception. Part of the reason for going was to see how cycling is faring there and, to be honest, I was very surprised by the resources and infrastructure they have. They told me about a 90km circuit they have built, the idea being to promote growth."
Sánchez said he and Shafar had spent a good deal of time talking about cycling in general and what is now required to boost the sport in that region. "What they need are experienced people who can guide the riders they've got coming through," the Spaniard explained. Sánchez admitted that he is interested in offering them the benefit of his experience, saying: "The plan does attract me."
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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