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Vuelta a Espana

Sánchez to focus on Vuelta in ’09

Samuel Sánchez continues to soak up the attention that comes with the Olympic gold medal. Everywhere he goes, journalists are knocking down his door for an interview. This week, “Samu” is on vacation in Spain’s Canary Islands and told reporters there more details about his racing schedule for the upcoming season. He’ll skip the 2009 Tour de France (where he finished seventh overall last year) and focus on trying to win the Vuelta a España.

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Samuel Sánchez scored gold in Beijing.

Photo: Agence France Presse

Samuel Sánchez continues to soak up the attention that comes with the Olympic gold medal. Everywhere he goes, journalists are knocking down his door for an interview.

This week, “Samu” is on vacation in Spain’s Canary Islands and told reporters there more details about his racing schedule for the upcoming season. He’ll skip the 2009 Tour de France (where he finished seventh overall last year) and focus on trying to win the Vuelta a España.

“In principle, I am not going to race the Tour, but instead focus on the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Vuelta a España and the worlds,” he told La Opinion. “It bothers me that I will not be going to the Tour, but I am trying to look for what’s best for the me and my team. Last year, I was in the top six (Editor’s Note: Sanchez remains in seventh until Bernhard Kohl is officially disqualified), and if I didn’t have a bad a day on the Tourmalet, I would have had options for the podium, something I wouldn’t have believed four years ago.”

Sánchez, known for his fearless descending skills, is set to travel to San Diego to undergo wind-tunnel testing at the same facility used by Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador to improve his time trial position.

The 30-year-old believes that he can win a grand tour and is taking aim at overall victory at the Vuelta. In 2007, Sánchez became the first Euskaltel-Euskadi rider to finish on a grand tour podium with third at the Vuelta.

“I’ve already been third at the Vuelta and my next objective is to win it,” he said. “I hope to be able to arrive at the world’s in the same form I had at the Olympics, but it will be a very hard course, in Mendrisio.”

Sánchez, who holds the distinction as being the only non-Basque rider on the Euskaltel-Esukadi team, also said he will be sharing the prize money he earned that came with the Olympic medal with his Spanish national teammates.

Sánchez won 94,000 euros with the gold medal, something he wants to share with Beijing teammates Oscar Freire, Carlos Sastre, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde.

“In Beijing, cycling is not considered a team sport and with the medal, they paid me with an individual title,” he said. “Even though this money was given to me, I think it’s right to continue the tradition and split it about the others. I mailed a letter to COE (Spanish Olympic committee), and because I cannot share the medal, I opted for this solution. Also, because one day is for you, the other for me. There are Olympics, worlds, and you never know when we have to help each other. This creates a good feeling between the group, one of the things that’s characterized a team that’s given a lot of titles to Spain.”

To read the original interview, visit La Opinion.