Samuel Sánchez says next year’s route for the Tour de France is ideal for him to make a run for the final podium.
The reigning Olympic champion held a top-3 spot throughout much of the 2010 Tour, only to lose it to Denis Menchov in the final time trial. Sánchez slipped to a career-best fourth overall, something that he says motivates him even more after being so close to the podium.
“I was close to the podium last year, so with this route, that hard and very difficult, it gives me motivation that I can achieve it,” Sánchez told VeloNews. “Being so close to the podium makes me believe that I can achieve it. I had it my hands, but I knew it would be complicated against this long, flat final time trial like we saw in Bordeaux.”
With six hard days in the mountains, including four summit finishes, the 2011 Tour will favor the climbers.
Even though Sánchez is not a pure climber in the style of Andy Schleck, he believes next year’s Tour route favors him even more. Sánchez can also defend in time trials, but he admitted that having fewer time trial kilometers than in 2010 will only serve to help his chances even more.
“We still have to sit down and plan out the season, but the idea right now is to arrive at the Tour in the best condition possible and aim for the podium,” Sánchez continued. “I think it’s a good Tour route for my characteristics.”
Sánchez could get his third place finish after all if Alberto Contador is disqualified. The Spanish winner is facing a possible two-year ban and disqualification of his Tour victory after traces of the banned drug clenbuterol were discovered in rest-day anti-doping controls.
Sánchez, however, said he wouldn’t want to see a readjustment of the 2010 standings.
“I wouldn’t like to be third for the elimination of Contador,” Sánchez told reporters in Paris last week. “For me, Alberto is the fair winner of the 2010 Tour. Whatever happens, he always will be for me. He doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him.”
Sánchez will stay in an Euskaltel-Euskadi jersey after signing a two-year contract extension with the team to stay through the 2012 season. “Samu,” who lives in Spain’s Asturias region, is unique in that he is the only rider on the Basque-backed team who is not Basque.
“This is the only pro team I’ve had,” he said. “I’m comfortable here and we are achieving some important goals. I want to continue to working with this unit. The Tour podium is the major goal for me next year.”