Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) says he’s rested and ready for a shot at the Tour de France podium.
The defending Olympic champion avoided serious injury despite a heavy fall at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month and vows to be in top fighting shape for the Tour.
Sánchez was worried that he had broken ribs in a nasty crash in stage 1 of the Tour warm-up race. He was later able to finish.
“There’s nothing broken and I was able to train for 11 days at altitude at Sierra Nevada,” Sánchez told El Nuevo España just before flying to Liège.
“It hurts a little when my massage therapist touches it, but I was able to train normally on the bike. It was important to take advantage of the altitude training before the start of the Tour.”
Sánchez, 34, is quietly optimistic he will be able to match his career-best Tour last year, when he won a stage and the King of the Mountains jersey en route to fifth overall.
The all-rounder, already a winner of the Vuelta al País Vasco earlier this season, admits it will not be easy on a course that favors the time-trial specialists.
“I want to stay focused because I have good form and you always aspire to the best. The only thing that I ask is that I do not crash,” he said. “There will be a lot of nerves in the opening days on the roads of Belgium. The Tour can be lost in one day.”
Sánchez says the absence of Alberto Contador, who will return from his clenbuterol ban in time for the Vuelta a España, and Andy Schleck, sidelined with injury, will mark the race.
Both riders have the ability to attack time trialists such as Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), something that Sánchez will be missing this year.
“Contador could make a lot of damage with his attacks in the mountains and that benefited me. We also do not know who will carry the weight of the race, because if he were here, his team would take that role,” he said.
“I would like to repeat my performance from last year, except the day on Galibier when I suffered. Sometimes you’re strong, but you don’t go as well as you hoped.”
Sánchez is an outsider
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