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Euskaltel captain chases results in big Alpine race as leader of a strong team containing many riders from the team's Tour de France line-up

Photo: Sirotti

CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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EGOI MARTINEZ

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EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI

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GORKA IZAGIRRE

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MIKEL ASTARLOZA

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MIKEL NIEVE

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ROMAIN SICARD

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SAMUEL SANCHEZ

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30.05.2013 @ 10:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) rode himself into some good form during the Giro d'Italia and was one of the strongest climbers in the final week of racing. Before taking a mid-season break, he wants to benefit from that condition when he lines up in one of the traditional warm-up races for the Tour de France, the Criterium du Dauphiné.

 

The big Alpine WorldTour race, the Crierium du Dauphiné serves a dual purpose. On one hand it is mostly known as one of the most important preparation events for the Tour de France and this will greet the two big favourites for the Grande Boucle, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. On the other hand, it is a perfect opportunity for some of the Giro's strongest climbers to benefit from their good condition and squeeze out a couple of results before they take a break. In 2011 Joaquin Rodriguez came directly from Italy and notched up two stage wins and last year his teammate Daniel Moreno did the same.

 

This year another Spaniard hopes to repeat that performance. Samuel Sanchez lined up in Italy with the purpose of joining the select group of riders who have won stages in all three grand tours and possibly step onto the final podium in Brescia. Both objectives ultimately failed but while the Spaniard was clearly far from his best in the early part of the race, he improved - as usual - in the final week of racing and finished 4th on the steep Jafferau climb and 2nd in the mountain time trial.

 

He had hoped to win the queen stage to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo on the penultimate day of racing but despite hard work from his team, he came up short on the steep slopes. He now aims to make up for that defeat in France where he will spearhead a very strong Euskaltel team.

 

While Sanchez hopes to win a stage and contest the general classification, most of the other riders in the line-up will use the race to fine-tune their condition for the Tour. Having finished in the top 10 and won stages in both the Giro and Vuelta, Mikel Nieve will make his Tour debut this year as joint leader with Igor Anton and while Anton is in Switzerland to prepare his French campaign, Nieve hopes to show signs of improving in the Dauphiné after a solid showing in the Bayern Rundfahrt last week.

 

Former U23 world champion Romain Sicard is also preparing his Tour debut in France while Gorka Izagirre will try his hand in some of the undulating finishes while he builds up for the French grand tour. Finally, veteran Mikel Astarloza will be a key rider in the Tour squad and he will put the finishing touches to his condition by lining up in the French Alps.

 

Another rider with red-hot Giro form is Egoi Martinez. The Spaniard is known as Sanchez' trusted lieutenant and will probably show his aggressive nature in the French mountains. Finally, the two young riders Pello Bilbao and Ricardo Garcia will gain plenty of experience by lining up in one of the hardest races of the year.

 

The Criterium de Dauphiné starts on Sunday with a road stage starting and finishing in Champery. On Wednesday, the riders will tackle a 32,5km flat time trial before 4 stages in the mountains greet the riders in the final part of the race.

 

Euskaltel-Euskadi for the Criterium du Dauphiné:

Samuel Sanchez, Mikel Nieve, Egoi Martinez, Gorka Izagirre, Mikel Astarloza Gorka Izagirre, Pello Bilbao and Ricardo Garcia

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