Saturday, April 06, 2013

Sánchez relaxed over País Vasco failure

It was a thoroughly underwhelming Vuelta al País Vasco that came to a close today for Euskaltel Euskadi.

No stage victory, no overall podium (let alone a top ten overall) and, perhaps most worryingly, a bunch of riders seemingly far from being at the peak of their powers.

As ever, Euskaltel called on Samuel Sánchez, Mr. Reliable if there ever was one, to deliver the goods. With the Asturian's eyes fixed firmly on the Giro d'Italia in May, though, relying on 'Samu' was a decision that well and truly backfired.

Despite showing flickering signs of form en route to second place on the race's queen-stage to Beasain on Friday, the 34-year-old came up hopefully short in Saturday's deciding crono. The team leader finished more than three minutes down in 48th place - not the kind of result we've come to expect from him on such a favourable course.

In the end he finished the race in 15th overall. Talking to the press post-stage, 'Samu' refused to get worked up about the lack of success.

"The time trial was really hard", he said. "Perhaps I payed for yesterday's efforts. I didn't post a strong time. Last year I came to this race in my best shape and managed to fulfill a dream of mine: to win the Vuelta al País Vasco outright. This year I'm preparing for the Giro, and I said beforehand that I wasn't in the necessary shape to be able to fight for the GC.

"I knew that I needed to be competitive in one of the most important races, though, and I was there or thereabouts. I fought for the win on the queen-stage and learned that my form is on the right track with an eye on the Giro. I'm pleased with how I did", he said.

Sánchez is yet to decide on where he'll line up next, but says he'll be, in principle, at the start line of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

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