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"I am here to support both Nibali and Aru in the grand tours as they both aim for the overall standings. But of course the calendar is big with one-week stage races and classics so I think there will be a chance to ride for myself."

Photo: Sirotti




07.12.2014 @ 07:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a year at the pro continental level, Luis Leon Sanchez is back in the WorldTour after he signed a contract with Astana. However, the Spaniard knows that his main job is to support Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru in the grand tours.


In 2015 Luis Leon Sanchez is facing a new adventure. After a solid season at Caja Rural - Seguros RGA, the Spaniard is back at the elite level after signing a contract with the Astana team. In the Kazakh formation, he will mainly have to work for his captains Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru but may get his own chances occasionally, especially in the one-week stage races.


Sanchez recently met his teammates for the first time and he feels ready for the challenge ahead.


"This winter I have been at home to spend some quality time with my family and now I have started to train," he told Spaziociclismo. "I am very happy and have a great desire to start.


"It is an extra motivation to return to a WorldTour team and be part of one of the best teams in the world. I will try to do things in the best way and see how everything goes."


Last year Sanchez had diffifulty finding a new team after he left Belkin due to his links to several doping investigations. In late December, he was thrown a lifeline by Caja Rural.


"First, I want to thank them for all they have done for me," he said. "It was a special moment for me because unfortunately at the end of the season I did not have any offers. It was a very quick negotiation and from the first moment I felt at home because they treated me very well. On the sporting level, I didn't achieve many victories. In the end, I only won twice but we managed to reach important goals. Winning the best climber's jersey at the Vuelta a España is a result that I thought I would never achieve. So I'm happy with the results but obviously the ambition always is to win more and more."


With his move to Astana, Sanchez will be able to do a lot more WorldTour races but he knows what his role will be.


"With Caja Rural, we were lucky to have a calendar with important races but being in a WorldTour team, we now have a certain schedule. We just have to wait and see which races I will do and I will always try to do my best.

"I honestly do not know if I will have freedom and on what occasions. I am here to support both Nibali and Aru in the grand tours as they both aim for the overall standings. But of course the calendar is big with one-week stage races and classics so I think there will be a chance to ride for myself. At the moment, I don't care though. Let's see what kind of schedule I will get and what time of the season I have to be ready."


Sanchez still doesn't know whether he will support Aru in the Giro or Nibali in the Tour.


"It is not decided yet but there will be no problem with the final decision. I'm not here to make my calendar since in a big team, the captains decide their calendar and we adapt accordingly."


Sanchez may make his debut in his home race, the Vuelta a Murcia.


"Maybe, it would be a dream," he said. "Last year it was the first time that I got the chance to do the race of my region and the night before the race I got sick with a fever. I only started because I was riding at home. If the team will do the race in 2015, I would like to be there and try to get the best possible result."


At the end of the season, Sanchez was a key rider for Alejandro Valverde at the World Championships.


"Eventually Alejandro Valverde took a medal that was important for Spain and for himself," he said. "We rode in Spain and we were almost obliged to get a medal even though it was not easy. On a personal level, I did not live up to what I expected but maybe I had finished the Vuelta really tired physically and mentally.


"There were times in the race when we were caught a bit off-guard. However, I think the team did really well since Herrada attacked after Daniel Navarro. In the finale, I tried to give my best for Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde but in the end, Michal Kwiatkowski proved to be the strongest. However, Valverde has no reason to regret anything and we can only praise him because his achievements with the national team are great. He may not have won yet but I hope he will succeed before he retires."



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