Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) expressed relief to get a win in his pocket going into Monday’s Vuelta al País Vasco, where he will be the heavy favorite to win the week-long Basque tour.
Sánchez darted to victory in Saturday’s GP Indurain, earning his first win since the Vuelta a Burgos last August and the first for his Euskaltel-Euskadi team on the 2011 season.
“We’re happy to get the win. It was a very difficult day. The team was phenomenal and we worked hard, but not only us, but all the teams,” Sánchez said. “It was very hot. The race was fast from the start, with continuous attacks, and the truth is we’re very happy to have won.”
The victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the reigning Olympic road race champion. The Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi is always under pressure to win the Tour of the Basque Country, its “home race,” and Sánchez will be the team’s best hope to deliver victory.
Sánchez has had success at the Basque tour, winning four stages and finishing on the final podium three times. Now he’s just missing that top step to earn his txapela, the over-sized beret awarded to the race winners.
“I have been six times in the top-10. It’s a race I know perfectly. It’s an important objective for my and for our team. It’s always meant a lot to us. I will do everything within my reach to be able to win,” Sánchez told El Diario Vasco. “I have been working hard as always. I don’t know anyone who wins without working hard. There are no gifts here. I started training in the middle of December. Since then, I’ve been building kilometers, every day with more intensity. During the week of Christmas, I was training in Alicante.”
The Basque tour opens Monday and concludes with a time trial Saturday.
Euskaltel-Euskadi for Tour of the Basque Country
- ● Samuel Sánchez
- ● Pablo Urtasun
- ● Amets Txurruka
- ● Egoi Martínez
- ● Gorka Verdugo
- ● Iñaki Isasi
- ● Ivan Velasco
- ● Juan José Oroz