Road Cycling News

Tour of the Basque Country final stage – home victory for Sanchez

Spain’s Olympic road race champion, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), has won the Tour of the Basque Country.

Samuel Sanchez celebrates his first overall victory in the Tour of the Basque Country

Sanchez clinched overall victory in fine style by winning the closing stage, a technical 18.9km individual time trial at Oñati. He began the day nine seconds behind Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez, after finishing second to him on the two previous stages, but his superior time trialing abilities brought him the stage and overall victories.

Sanchez dedicated his victory to team boss, Miguel Madariaga, and paid tribute to his teammates. “The team has been outstanding. We are a small team fighting with big teams with budgets of 19 and 20 million Euros, but we have perseverance and have had the mentality and have done the job well,” he said.

He added that his victory came at an uncertain time for the team and backed hard work as the route to success. Sanchez finished ahead of second-placed Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), whose time moved him to third overall, and a world time trial champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who was third on the stage.

Rodriguez, winner of the two previous stages, finished sixth in the time trial, 21 seconds behind Sanchez, losing his leader’s jersey on the final stage for the second consecutive year.

The Spanish climber, not a noted time trialist, remained upbeat, describing his performance as an improvement in races against the clock.

“Unfortunately, Sanchez today was really great. He knows these routes very well, he’s more used to the ITT than me and put in a great performance. I didn’t do my best in downhills, also because the road was slippery and it was not worth the risk,” he said.

Team Sky’s Lars Petter Nordhaug was fifteenth on the stage, 39 seconds behind Sanchez, but finished sixth overall. Directeur sporfit, Marcus Ljungqvist, praised Nordhaug for his performance on a course he said “wasn’t your average TT”.

“It’s a really good result for Lars-Petter. He did a good TT today. When you look at his time trialling from last year he has improved a lot. Sixth against that calibre of riders is impressive,” he said.

He also praised the team’s Columbian climber, Sergio Henao, who finished 32nd in the time trial, 1.14 behind Sanchez, and thirteenth overall.

“It’s the first WorldTour race for Sergio and one of the first races he has done in Europe and in this league. He was close to the top 10 and it is very promising for the upcoming races too,” he added.

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