For another year Samuel Sánchez will be leader of Euskaltel-Euskadi. The 32-year old 'Asturiano' has two clear objectives, the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de France, where he wants to win a stage and ameliorate his 7th place of 2008. Samuel Sánchez answered these questions in the Euskaltel training camp in Derio from Biciciclismo.
How is the preseason and winter going?
The most important thing is that everything is going well, without any injuries like last year when I had one at my left knee. My health is good and that's the most important for a sporter.
How are you looking towards the new year?
It will be a special year cause the sponsor will quit after this one so everyone will to their best to get a new one next year. It's important to know whether the team will continue or quit after this year so we have to look out for something new.
Do you expect extra pressure?
No, personally I'm calm and focussed on my preparation. It's an extra motivation. There's no need to get nervous about the team continuing or not. I'm focussing more on training and getting the best out of the races.
Do you have the intention to stay with Euskaltel-Euskadi?
My intention is certain. I don't know how the direction thinks about it, but I feel part of the team, part of the schedule of Miguel Madariaga. I would love to continue here.
You've also said that you wanted to end your carreer in this team.
Yes, I've said that and I stick with it: I would love to end my carreer with Euskaltel-Euskadi. Although I don't want to close other doors because the carreer of a cyclist is short and you'll have to get the maximum out of it.
What are objectives for this year?
The first objective is being 100% in the Tour of the Basque Country, but I already want to show myself in Paris-Nice and the Criterium International and that way getting a good condition for the Basque Country.
And what do you think about the Tour de France?
We have to keep our feet on the ground and I'm a bit reluctant to it myself, but the main objective is to do better than in 2008. The ideal is finishing on the podium, but I have to be realistic cause you have Contador and other strong contenders.
How do you look back on the Tour 2008?
Good and satisfied. I lost time on the Hautacam and the Tourmalet, just like Valverde, and that whitholded me from obtaining a better spot in the general rank.
The Vuelta has been dismissed?
Nothing is certain, we'll have to see that during the season. The Vuelta has an attractive parcours with stages in the Asturias where I live. And the Vuelta is my race, where I finished two time on the podium and won several stages. Just like the Tour of the Basque Country, I want to win it.
The last Vuelta, you lost time in the stage with Xorret de Cati.
That was due to a fall in the stage before, I felt really bad but that's cycling! Valverde was the deserved winner cause he made the least mistakes.
You feel good with Euskaltel-Euskadi?
It's like Athletico Bilbao in soccer, they only choose players from their own region. Other teams have a lot of cyclists to pick from but we're limited. In the Tour de France you need cyclists with experience and the parcours is looking good, there is no team time trial which is good for us. Especially the last week we'll be beautiful with the Pyrenees and the last time trial.
How is the Asturian cycling going?
There is not a lot of new talent, maybe Higionio Fernández with Caja Rural. We have Checu, Noval, Barredo, Navarro, Santí Perez, Sobrino, Santamarta, Antuña and me, but there's nothing after us. We hope that Alonso will take care of this with his new team.
What is certain about Alonso's team?
It's not an invention. He's really planning on starting a team, but what he's real intention are, I don't know yet. But it would be good for Spain to have another team with a good schedule.
Would you like to participate in the World Championships in Melbourne?
It's still far away and a lot of things can happen this season. It's not the ideal parcours for guys like me and Valverde, it's probably a better chance for Freire and I will be happy to help him with that.