Reigning Olympic road champion Samuel Sánchez is keeping his goals close to home in 2009.
Instead of making a run at improving on his seventh place performance in last year’s Tour de France (now sixth, following Bernard Kohl’s disqualification), the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider will instead focus on the Vuelta al País Vasco and make a run for overall victory at the Vuelta a España.
His lone goal that will take him beyond the friendly roads of Spain will be the world championships on a challenging course in Mendrisio, Switzerland, in late September.
“In 2009, we are going to concentrate on trying to win the Vuelta and the world championship. We’ll skip the Tour,” Sánchez said during a recent trip to Tenerife. “We ended up sixth, and considering some errors, we could have been on the podium, but the team wants to bet on the Basque Country tour, the Vuelta and the worlds, so one has to adapt to this.”
Sánchez will kick start his 2009 season at the Mallorca Challenge (February 8-12) and then race the Ruta del Sol-Vuelta a Andalucía (February 15-19), his first race days ahead of the Basque Country tour in early April.
“It’s too bad I’m not going to the Tour this year, but I always consider what’s best for me and the team,” he said. “We have two more years of contract and 2010 we can be back at the Tour. Concerning the Tour, I’ve shaken this fear, but not the respect. One always has to respect the Tour because it’s the most important race of the world.”
After peaking early for the Basque Country tour and a likely run through the Ardennes classics, Sánchez will reload for a strong second half of the season, highlighted by the Vuelta and the worlds.
“I’ve been third in the Vuelta and now my goal is to win it,” he said. “And the worlds. It’s a very hard course, one that’s ideal for me.”