Thursday, March 31, 2011

Samu eyeing Arrate and Zalla

One of the charms of the Vuelta al País Vasco is that the race can be won or lost anywhere. With it's constant up and downs, nervous racing and often foul weather, País Vasco is unlike any other race in that matter. Samu Sánchez is all too aware of it. Having finished on the podium three times but never on the top step, Samu has unfinished business with his home race. The win has eluded him time and time again, but I, for one, am quietly optimistic that this might just be his year. Talking about the race, there's no doubting Samu holds the Vuelta al País Vasco dear. "It's a high-priority objective for me and my team", he told newspaper el Diario Vasco. "I will do everything in my power to win this race. This race means a lot to us, it always has done. In my case, I've three podiums and four stage wins. I've finished six times among the top 10. It's a race I know inside-out." While reticent about who his main challengers might be, Samu was not so reserved about where the race will be won or lost. "The crono in Zalla and the stage to Arrate are key", he said. "On paper at least that's where the gaps will be made. The overall winner will have to be at the front both days. Arriving in Zalla for the TT on the last day with all your options open will be important. It's a race against the clock that will create gaps. The distance of 24 kilometres is long enough to take, or lose, quite a few seconds." With noted time trialists like Klöden, Martin and, to a certain degree, Horner present, distancing those riders prior to the last day will be pivotal if Samu is to stand a chance of winning I reckon. While superb against the clock on his day, there's no hiding Samu is weaker overall in the time trials compared to the powerful trio I just mentioned. Riding aggressively throughout to get rid of them is the best, and only, option.

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