Saturday, 7 April 2012

Euskaltel: Pressure Off As Sanchez Takes Overall In Basque Country

Not long ago I blogged on the troubles facing the Euskaltel Euskadi team and its Basque Country riders regarding finance and sponsorship, you can read the full article here but in essence I highlighted how Euskaltel needed some good results this year and today Samuel Sanchez destroyed the field in the final TT at Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of The Basque Country) to take the stage and overall win of this years 6 day long stage race.

Like the majority of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team Samuel Sanchez was born in the Basque Country and although he's had plenty of stage wins in his home 'tour' Sanchez has never won, placing third three times in 2003, 2007 and 2009. His long awaited victory couldn't have come at a better time for Euskaltel who still require vital extra sponsorship to continue riding at the top-level and developing Basque based riders. Sanchez is clearly on great form, his previous stage win at the Tour of Catalunya was a great boost for the team and together with his latest victory should have secured some good air-time and publicity. It's unfortunate however that this race wasn't broadcast on Eurosport and further afield as that would have been an added bonus.

Not just a great team result, but this win is a fantastic personal achievement for Sanchez, a rider I like very much thanks to his aggressive attacking style. The win in today's Time Trial is a triumph in itself - Sanchez made the most of the wet conditions and the steep profile to beat Time Trial specialist and current TT World Champion Tony Martin who seems to be struggling to find his TT form so far this year. I had Martin down to win this stage, its become almost a formality and Martin's TT palmares from last year alone speaks for itself, Courtesy of Wikipedia:
1st World Time Trial Champion
1st Stage 20 ITT Tour de France
1st Stage 10 ITT Vuelta a España
1st Stage 3 ITT Critérium du Dauphiné
1st Overall Volta ao Algarve
1st Stage 5 ITT
1st Overall Paris-Nice
1st Stage 6 ITT Paris-Nice
1st Overall Tour of Beijing
1st Stage 1 ITT Tour Of Beijing
1st Stage 6 ITT Tour of the Basque Country

Sanchez summed it up nicely ''This is not just a victory for me, but also one for the team. Euskaltel Euskadi is a small team but we have a lot of passion.” I'm looking forward to seeing Sanchez and fellow countryman Igor Anton in the Grand Tours this year, if they both manage to put in some good performances then the future should look a little brighter for Euskaltel Euskadi and I hope that will be the case because they really are a passionate, hardworking team with some very classy bike riders.

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