The 2011 season is now just a matter of days away and Luis Leon Sanchez is putting the finishing touches to his training ahead of his debut season with Rabobank. The Spaniard signed for the Dutch squad after a successful spell at Caisse d’Epargne, to which he had committed in 2007.
Sanchez is eagerly training for next season, working out in his homeland in Murcia. “I would like to improve my performance in high mountain stages. I don’t have good times in the really hard mountaintop finishes,” he told Cyclingnews.
Sanchez’s race schedule already looks jam-packed for 2011. He will ride the Vuelta a Mallorca, Vuelta a Andalucia, Paris-Nice, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Critérium du Dauphiné, Tour de France, Clásica San Sebastian and the Vuelta a España.
The Spaniard finished fourth overall in the UCI World ranking, proving he is among the very best riders in the world. Early in the year, he ended up second in Australia’s Tour Down Under where he won stage five. Later on, he finished second again on the Paris-Nice podium after a very consistent week in France.
In March he competed in his own country riding the Volta a Catalunya and earning a decent fourth place. In the 2010 Tour de France he was very close to the top 10 as he ended up 11th. After the Tour finally came his big win, as he took the one-day Clasica de San Sebastian in the Basque city.
The last parade in his year was the Tour of Spain. He finished in the top 10 in the three-week race. “It was a good season for me,” the rider from Murcia told Cyclingnews. “We had worked hard, things were going well, and results had come. Maybe we lacked some luck in some precise moments of the season but I am happy with the achievements that we got.”
With Caisse d’Epargne now part of his history the Spaniard is ready to turn his attention to his new team but he is still full of admiration for the time he spent racing for the Spanish outfit.
“They were four very good years for me,” he said. “It was a very good period for me. I have grown a lot as a rider from 23 to 27 years old. I have grown much as a person; I have had great teammates, also great friends. I felt so very good these four years, and they made my sporting career develop greatly. I realized that one must work to achieve things.”
From January 1, 2011, the tall rider will be joining the powerful Dutch team. “I was lucky that they put their trust in me, not only Erik Breukink but also the rest of the team. To be honest with you, it was hard for me to leave Spain [riding for Spanish teams - ed.]. I had spent so much time racing in Spain, almost my whole life. I have never been outside Spain,” he said.
“When such a great team like Rabobank gives you a chance, it is really hard to say no. In the short time I spent with the team in training, I realized it is a very united team. It is a team willing to work, with a very good organisation.”
Leon Sanchez will be joining other Spaniards within the Dutch team, namely Oscar Freire, Carlos Barredo and Juan Manuel Garate, which should help his adaptation in the new outfit.