On Saturday, Sammy Sanchez (BMC Racing) will line out for his tenth Vuelta a España with the aim of adding to his five previous stage wins. The 39-year-old hasn't raced a Grand Tour since abandoning the Vuelta last year while a crash at the Tour of the Basque Country has hindered his 2017 season.
"There are many stages that I know and I'm coming for a victory," Sanchez said. "The Cuenca finish brings back very good memories, I won my second La Vuelta stage there, in 2006. There are also the Asturias (his home region), with the finish at Gijon, where I also won. And the Angliru is only 10 kilometres from where I live."
Sanchez won his first Vuelta stage in in 2005, adding a second in 2006 and then three in 2006 when he rode to third place overall. He missed the race in 2008 but returned in 2009 to finish in second place. Sanchez continued his top-ten run with eighth and then sixth in 2013 and 2014 but has recorded a DNF in his last two Vuelta's.
Having sat inside the top-ten for the majority of the race last year before abandoning, Sanchez explained he is well aware how quickly a GC bid can come underdone.
"On such a route, you have to take every stage as a one-day race, anything can happen any day," "One day, you're fighting for the general classification, and you can be out of contention the very next day. At La Vuelta, you can't afford the slightest slip-up."
With BMC taking a strong team to the Vuelta that includes Tejay van Garderen, Nico Roche, and Damiano Caruso, there won't be pressure on Sanchez as the sole leader of the team. Having recovered from his April crash, he added he is refreshed and ready for the 20th Grand Tour of his career.
"I rested well after the Route du Sud, and rest is what I needed", he explained. "I came back on the Tour of Poland, with no pain and the body responding perfectly."
While Sanchez completes his future in the sport, he isn't thinking the 2017 Vuelta will be the last of his career.
"I want to focus on La Vuelta and then I'll make this difficult decision," he added.
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