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Euskaltel's Martinez inspired by Sánchez's leadership

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Egoi Martinez has had admirable results in previous years at the Vuelta a España, finishing 12th overall in 2006 while racing for the Discovery Channel team followed in 2008 by a ninth place general classification for his present Euskaltel-Euskadi squad. Martinez also won a stage and collected the best climber's jersey at the 2006 Vuelta and led the Spanish Grand Tour for four days in 2008.

In 2009, however, his mission is solely to work for Euskaltel-Euskadi's team leader Samuel Sánchez, the Vuelta a España's third place finisher in 2007 and 2008 Beijing Olympic road race champion.

"What motivates a team is a good leader and in this Vuelta we have it," said Martinez. "Samu [Samuel Sánchez] is very motivated and conveys that confidence to all. I think that for the first time this team can win a Grand Tour.

"It's been a difficult summer for the team and we need something to celebrate. I believe that in this Vuelta we're going to have that. So far the race has not revealed many things, but I think the time trial in Valencia will provide some clarity."

Martinez has been plagued with heavy legs during the Vuelta stages in The Netherlands, but looks forward to being back in Spain. "After the Tour and Clasica San Sebastian, the body seems to be somewhat relaxed despite the training. I think it was more psychological than physical fatigue, but I'm going to pick up the pace and I am optimistic about my performance from now on."

The Spaniard has had his share of crashes in the Vuelta, bearing abrasions to his knee, arms and hand "but it's nothing serious, just an annoyance."

Martinez is looking forward to his favored terrain in the mountains. "I'll be able to carry out the team's strategy by either getting in the breakaways or being near Samuel on the climbs, to help when it comes to setting a good tempo."