After falling short of his aims at the Giro d’Italia, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is aiming to bounce back at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which gets underway on Sunday.
Sanchez finished 12th overall at the Giro thanks to a strong showing in the race’s final week, but he was already out of the running for a podium place after the first mountain stage to Altopiano del Montasio at the beginning of week two.
It was the first time since the 2005 Giro that Sanchez completed a Grand Tour outside of the top ten overall. He was forced to abandon last year’s Tour de France after crashing on stage 8.
“I think in six years it’s the first time I’ve failed at a Grand Tour or finished outside the top ten,” Sanchez told AS. “But all of the great champions in cycling history have failed at some of their aims.”
Sanchez came close to salvaging a stage win from his Giro in the Polsa mountain time trial on stage 18, when he spent much of the afternoon in the hot seat before maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) ultimately beat him by 58 seconds.
“We thought that it would be enough for Nibali just to maintain his lead over second place on the classification,” Sanchez said. “His time trial was a real surprise.”
Sanchez also performed strongly on stage 14 to Bardonecchia, where he finished 4th, but was left frustrated by his attempts to slip up the road in search of stage victory in the final week, particularly on the road to Ivrea on stage 16.
“Above all, I was marked by people who were aiming at other classifications and that made it difficult for me to fight for a stage win,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s programme for the remainder of the season is yet to be established, although it is anticipated that he will ride the Vuelta a España in preparation for the world championships in Florence.
His Euskaltel-Euskadi team, meanwhile, has just two wins this season – stages at the Vuelta a Castilla y León from Pablo Urtasun and Juan José Lobato – and manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano acknowledged that the pressure was mounting as the Tour de France approaches.
“I am aware that we haven’t had good results with just two wins,” Gonzalez de Galdeano told AS. “That means that we will have more pressure at the Tour.”
Euskaltel-Euskadi team for Critérium du Dauphiné: Samuel Sanchez, Egoi Martínez, Mikel Nieve, Romain Sicard, Gorka Izagirre, Mikel Astarloza, Pello Bilbao and Ricardo García.