Samuel Sánchez continued his preparations for the Vuelta a España by putting in another steady performance on stage two of the Vuelta a Burgos on Thursday.
Just like on Wednesday, he came in 12th on a stage that again ended on a small climb. Orica-GreenEdge's talented Jens Keukeleire emerged victorious on the two-kilometre, uncategorized climb in Clunia after a 157km ride from Roa de Duero.
Sánchez, as well as team-mates Mikel Landa and Gorka Verdugo, came in with the first chase group at two seconds - ahead of the likes of Italian duo Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso, both, like 'Samu', eyeing the overall at the Vuelta later this month.
Post-stage, the Euskaltel team leader took time out to speak to BiciCiclismo. While the 35-year-old feels he's headed in the right direction, he admits he won't be the number one favourite come the start of the year's final Grand Tour.
"I always race with the intention of winning, but I'm aware of the fact that, honestly, there'll be better cyclists than me present at the Vuelta", he said. "This is not a typical year for me; having already done the Giro d'Italia, I don't know how my body will respond to another GT - it's been eight years since I last doubled up on three-week races. Joaquim Rodríguez, Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali are perhaps at a level above me, but, of course, the race will sort that out. We'll see".
Peio Bilbao, set for his maiden GT at the Vuelta, again showed fine form by infiltrating the break of the day. Alongside him was Team Euskadi first-year professionals Jon Larrinaga and Unai Iparraguirre, both hoping to make a name for themselves to facilitate the hunt for a new team in the likely scenario that the team folds at the end of the year.
Results (full results here):
- (1, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), 3:37:02)
- 12, Samuel Sánchez, 0:12
- 17, Carlos Barbero, s.t.
- 20, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
- 23, Mikel Landa, s.t.
- 48, Jorge Azanza, 0:13
- 49, Egoi Martínez, s.t.
- 56, Ricardo García, 0:24
- 58, Haritz Orbe, 0:30
- 79, Pablo Urtasun, 1:13
- 84, Aritz Bagües, 1:15
- 87, Igor Merino, 1:22
- 111, Mikel Bizkarra, 2:03
- 114, Illart Zuazubiskar, 2:09
- 120, Peio Bilbao, 3:14
- 121, Jon Larrinaga, 4:07
- 122, Unai Iparraguirre, s.t.