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"Ten years have passed, things have happened, we’ve enjoyed some of them, others we didn’t but we can’t look behind. All I know is that ten years on, I’m here and my motivation is still the same,” Sanchez...

Photo: Sirotti






16.01.2015 @ 07:28 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

It is going to be an entirely different Tour Down Under without perennial stage and overall classification winners Simon Gerrans and Andre Greipel, but while stars of previous editions of the Australian only WorldTour race will for various reasons remain at home, Luis Leon Sanchez will make his return exactly ten years after winning the event. This time, clad in exceptionally stylish Astana Procycling outfit.


Even though Sanchez admits that Tour Down Under was a different event a decade ago, not only because of its back then sprinters-friendly route but also in terms of its prestige, but nonetheless is very nostalgic while reflecting on those moments..


“I was 21 years old”, he recalled, according to Cyclingnews. “I came to Australia with a great motivation and the biggest desire to conquer the world. It was January. I knew I had trained well at home. We arrived two weeks prior to the race and we were a young team. We had developed together as the U23 feeder team of ONCE. We knew each other really well. Alberto was coming out of a big crash [at the 2004 Vuelta a Asturias]. He has said on several occasions that the Tour Down Under has been the most important race of his career, his first come back. Ten years have passed, things have happened, we’ve enjoyed some of them, others we didn’t but we can’t look behind. All I know is that ten years on, I’m here and my motivation is still the same.”

The 31-years old Spaniard admits, though, that the present route of the Australian event is better suited to his characteristics, with its hilly finishes tailor-made for more punchy riders.

“The course suits me better now than ten years ago”, the Spaniard said. “It’s not only because of Willunga Hill but also the other uphill finishes on shorter climbs. The race is more attractive for the riders now but also for the spectators. But it’s also a better race for Cadel [Evans] or Richie [Porte]. As usual, the Australians are the favourites. I’m in a pretty good shape and I love this race but as I come from Europe it’s impossible to make a comparison with those guys who have the advantage of having trained here. It’s also a question of dosing the efforts throughout the season.”

The 2015 season marks a return to WorldTour ranks for Sanchez, after his one-year spell at Caja-Rural. The 31-years old Spaniard emphasized how important it was for him to resume racing at the highest level again and revealed his schedule for the first part of the season, including leadership at the Paris-Nice and supporting Fabio Aru in the Giro d'Italia.

“They’ve been very good to me,” Sanchez said of the Pamplona-based team that backed him for winning the King of the Mountains competition at the Vuelta a España, “But for a rider, the most important league to be part of remains the WorldTour.”

“Astana wants to win the WorldTour by teams”, he said. “As the cycling year is very long, it’s good to have goals for different riders, for Fabio Aru at the Giro and Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour, but also the cobblestoned classics with Lars Boom, etc. Everyone in the team has his chance to have his moment.”

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Giro but it’s an unknown for me”, said the 31-year-old. “I just hope it won’t be too cold.” Hailing from the southern Spanish province of Murcia, he feels more comfortable with the weather conditions in Adelaide with temperatures over 30°C to begin with.



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