Samuel Sánchez came close to hanging up his wheels after months of uncertainty surrounding his team for 2014, until BMC signed him last week and allowed his career to continue.
“This was the last chance,” Sánchez said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca. “If I didn’t go with BMC, it would have been impossible. We had exhausted all avenues.”
The Olympic champion had a contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi until 2015, but the team folded at the end of last season. Problems with ending that contract meant that Sánchez had to postpone his search for a new deal.
Amidst the setbacks, Sánchez has continued to train but says that it wasn’t easy. “It was hard and train hard to leave without knowing for sure if you were going to ride,” he explains.
“But I like the bike and I'm in love with this profession, for which I have passion. The break with Euskaltel was delayed and prevented me seeking accommodation with more time. But in the end we came to agreement satisfactory to both parties.”
Sánchez may have found a team sooner, but he rejected some lower offers. Like Vuelta a España champion Chris Horner, those rejections almost forced him out of the sport for a season. He believes the struggles were worth the rewards, but says his decisions were not based on the financial incentives.
“I don’t race for money, far from it. I race for passion, like I’ve always done,” says the Spaniard. “The work has been done by my new agent, Joona Laukka, to whom I am grateful, and who has led me to the best possible team. The trajectory of the team and myself, there is no discussion. BMC have many people working with great professionalism. I could not have done better.”
With the ink still drying on the deal, Sánchez hasn’t been given a firm calendar for the season. However, it is believed that he will assist Cadel Evans at the Giro d’Italia.
Sánchez was the leader at the Euskaltel-Euskadi team for a long time. His best result was second place at the 2009 Vuelta a España. He also took third two years previously and was retrospectively bumped up to third at the 2010 Tour de France, after Alberto Contador’s disqualification.
Despite his pedigree, the Spaniard isn’t put out by the possibility of working as a domestique. “It won’t be for the first time,” says Sánchez. “I have done it many times at Euskaltel, to help my teammates. And here I will have some of the best, it will be very nice ride for someone with as great a track record as Cadel Evans.”
Sánchez revealed earlier this week that the contract with BMC was only for a year. This opens the door for a possible move to the new Fernando Alonso team at the end of the season. Sánchez and Alonso are from the same Asturian city of Oviedo.The Formula one driver bought the WorldTour licence from Euskaltel-Euskadi, but the plans to save the team fell through.
No riders have been announced for by the team, but rumours have linked the likes of Peter Sagan to the new team. “Yes I’ve got it,” he says of regarding an offer from Alonso.
“I will be happy to accept it, because he is a friend and want to make a great team. It will be very important for this team out, but I will have to wait for them to give the information. Now, I am now looking forward to being with BMC.”