Spain's World Championship team professed themselves generally happy with their performance in Mendrisio, which saw Joaquím 'Purito' Rodríguez claim the bronze medal behind Cadel Evans (Australia) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia). However, there was a feeling of 'what might have been', particularly from Samuel Sánchez, who felt he had the legs to add the world title to the Olympic crown he won in Beijing last year.
According to Sánchez the Spanish team had "taken two medals, Joaquím Rodríguez's bronze and my chocolate medal [for fourth place and first non-medallist], and that's not a bad result." The Euskaltel team leader said of Caisse d'Epargne's Rodríguez: "He totally deserved his reward for the work he did during the race when he was in a break for almost 100 kilometres."
Of his own chances, Sánchez said that he had to "respect Purito's options. He was in front and we had to respect that. We defended his interests and the team's tactics were good."
Asked whether the race could have ended differently for him, Sánchez responded: "I don't really know and, at the age of 31, I don't ask myself that kind of question any more. What's done is done. I had good legs, but sometimes that is not enough."
The Olympic champion confirmed that the favourites for the title had marked each other out of contention at the finish. "I spoke with Alejandro [Valverde], and as he was feeling below his best we decided that he would follow the attacks of [Damiano] Cunego and I would follow [Fabian] Cancellara's, because he was the strongest and I could follow him better on the descents."
After the fiasco of the Varese Worlds last year when Rodríguez was their best finisher in sixth, Sánchez felt "that we showed we're a team again. The Italians didn't get anything out of the race and we showed that we were the team we had been at the Olympics, and in previous World Championships. We gave a good account of ourselves and achieved the objective we set ourselves: winning a medal."
Rodríguez also had some regrets after his medal-winning ride. "It's a shame that Kolobnev and I played around with each other [before Evans came across] because we could have sprinted it out for the gold medal. But I was dead at the finish and I think the person who lost out most was Kolobnev. After being in the break all day I don't know what he wanted he to do," said the 30-year-old Catalan who recently signed a two-year deal with Katusha.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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