Samuel Sánchez crossed the line with a look of pure happiness as he took the win on Stage 4 of Vuelta al Pais Vasco and claimed his first victory for the season and his first individual win with BMC Racing Team.
Stage 4 was nothing short of tough with 6 categorized climbs distributed over the 165km course, but it was a late attack from Sanchez with just under two kilometers to go that sealed the victory.
Sánchez’ win is another addition to his already impressive results list at Vuelta al Pais Vasco, taking his number of stage wins to eight. He has retained his fourth place on the General Classification, 8 seconds behind new race leader Wilco Kelderman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).
When we managed to tear Sánchez away from his fans after the stage, this is what he had to say.
The Winner’s Interview with Samuel Sánchez
The look on your face as you crossed the finish line was of pure happiness. Can you describe this moment?
“For me it was a really, really beautiful day. The victory is really amazing. It’s a victory for my mind. It’s more important for me, for my mind and for the team. For BMC Racing Team today was a hard day because at the beginning of the stage, six of my teammates and I split from the peloton so we worked a lot to catch the first group. Then we caught the group before the final and I won the stage for my teammates.”
It was by no means an easy stage today, how did you feel in the legs?
“The stage was really hard. A lot of rain, a bit dangerous, a lot of big climbs and the pace of the race is so high. There were a lot of attacks at the final. When Contador attacked I stayed in his wheel and counter attacked in the last 200 meters of the climb. And then I went full gas to the finish and I could raise my hands as I crossed the line.”
This is your first individual win since 2013 and it is in Spain. How much more special does that make it?
“It’s my first individual win with BMC Racing Team. My last individual win was at the Dauphine in 2013 and this is too many years for me. Now it is a really, really beautiful day for me and for my mind it is a super important victory.”
And now looking forward to the next stages?
“The GC is difficult and tomorrow is a really difficult day. It’s particularly difficult because of my rivals and the weather. Tomorrow is up and down and with a climb for the finish, so we will take things day by day. For now we will enjoy today.”
Yvon Ledanois, Sports Director:
“At the beginning Samuel was dropped early in the stage but the team pulled for 25 kilometers. We took the responsibility of bringing him back to the bunch. In the final I told Samuel to stay in the front and with 1.5 kilometers to go Contador had attacked and I said to Samuel if you have the legs now is the time to go, go, go. The team did a very good job for him. It’s an amazing result for him and an amazing result for the team.”
“We knew that it was a perfect stage for him, particularly the final, but we didn’t put a lot of pressure on him. I knew he had the legs to win.”
Vuelta al Pais Vasco (2.UCIWT)
Stage 4: Lesaka › Orio (165k)
Top 3: Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing Team), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin)
Photos: Tim De Waele/TDWSport.com