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Samuel Sánchez's Vuelta goals

By Monika Prell

Samuel Sánchez will be the leader of the team Euskaltel-Euskadi for the Vuelta a España. The rider who finished fifth in 2006 declared that his "ambitions for this Vuelta are a place on the podium and to win a stage. If I could fulfil these two goals, I would be very satisfied."

The 29 year-old counts on a strong team. "We have a very strong squad, very composed. Haimar Zubeldia, Iñigo Landaluze, Iñaki Flores and I are very expert riders, meanwhile Igor Antón and Koldo Fernández are youthful. [Dionisio] Galparsoro, [Aitor] Hernández... it's a potent group that will be able to go for stage victories and a good general classification."

The Asturian believes that "the time trial of Zaragoza will be a point of change in the race. In addition, after this time trial of 50 kilometres there will be two stages that will finish on a mountain, Cerler and Arcalís. Judging only by seeing the profile, this is a very balanced Vuelta, and, from the beginning on, very attractive and entertaining for the spectators."

He sees Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), Carlos Sastre (CSC), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) and Santos Gonzalez (Karpin-Galicia) as favourites for the overall victory. "Those are the cyclists with the most options."

Sánchez described his plan following the Vuelta a España. "I will ride Paris–Tours and the Giro di Lombardia, the two end-of-season Classics. In the [2006] Giro di Lombardia, I finished second, we will see if I will have a similar level in this year's edition.

"And before these two races, I would like to compete in the World Championships. I hope to be in the final selection. Last year, I was among the best riders, and this season I would like to repeat this performance."

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