Sanchez to add muscle to Ardennes, Giro for BMC

Olympic champion will support Cadel Evans in the Giro and target a stage win of his own

LEON, Spain (VN) — Samuel Sánchez will race in a different jersey for the first time in his pro career when the 2008 Olympic champion debuts in BMC Racing colors in early March.

Team officials said Sánchez, who inked a late-hour deal to join BMC for 2014, will bring added firepower for the Ardennes classics and the Giro d’Italia, where Cadel Evans is targeting outright victory.

“Sammy will bring extra depth to our squad for the assault on the Ardennes classics and our bid to win the Giro d’Italia,” said BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper in a team release. “His experience, race intelligence, and ability to climb will be of paramount importance in the critical phases of these events where he will support Philippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans.”

Sánchez met last week with Peiper and sport director Yvon Ledanois at the team’s service course in Belgium to map out his racing calendar. Sánchez, who raced his entire career with the now-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi, will debut at a pair of French races, Classic Sud Ardèche (March 1) and the Drôme Classic (March 2), before starting Strade Bianche (March 8) and Roma Maxima (March 9) in Italy the following weekend.

“These races will give me confidence for racing and allow to me to get to know my teammates and how things work around the team at the races,” Sánchez said in a team release. “After those races, I will remain in Tuscany with several teammates for a week-long training camp. I think that’s the best way to prepare for my Spanish debut in Volta a Catalunya. That will be a good test before my first goal of the season, Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), where I would like to win another stage to add to the seven I have already won.”

After targeting strong results in Spain, Sánchez will ride to support Gilbert in the Ardennes classics before slotting into a support role for Evans at the Giro.

“I will be close to Evans as much as possible and, if I have the opportunity, I will try to win a stage,” Sánchez said. “That would be the cherry on top of my career because I have already won stages at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.”