Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has said that he hopes Alberto Contador is present at the 2011 Tour de France. Contador returned an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol at the 2010 race and is still waiting to hear if he will face sanction.
“Of the last four Tours, Contador has won the three that he’s taken part in and he has earned the status of favourite,” Sanchez told Biciciclismo.com. “Honestly, I would prefer if he is on the start line. A Tour without Contador would be like a Roland Garros without Nadal or Formula 1 without Alonso.”
The Tour de France will be the focal point of Sanchez’s season but the Olympic champion refused to be drawn on just how far he can go in July. He narrowly missed out on a podium place to Denis Menchov in 2010, although he will ultimately move up to third if Contador is sanctioned for a doping infraction.
“The Tour is the best race in the world, it’s like nothing else,” Sanchez said. “There are many different circumstances. Every year riders prepare better and are a year older. Every year there are route changes and it is always difficult. You never know.”
Sanchez also refused to rule out the possibility of riding the Vuelta a España, although he explained that any participation would be contingent on the state of his form after the Tour.
“Of course I like to ride it, but you have to go step by step,” he said. “According to the rumours, it will be a very hard Vuelta with some new finishes. If I go, it would be with the intention of winning it. I was already second in 2009, less than a minute behind a great rider like Valverde, and third in 2007. You have to wait and see how the Tour goes though, and also there are other riders on the team who can do very well.”
Sanchez has yet to draw up a definitive race programme, but it is expected that he will begin his season at the Ruta del Sol before moving on to ride Paris-Nice and the Criterium International. He will make a decision on his Ardennes classics participation after the Tour of the Basque Country.
“We’ll see after the Basque Country,” he said. “I like [the Classics] and they suit me. I’ve been second in Fleche Wallone and fourth in Liege.”
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