Sanchez snatches gold after baffling his rivals
Sunday 10 August 2008
For all his look of disbelief as he secured Spain's first gold medal of the 2008 Olympics, a major win was long overdue for Samuel Sanchez, who completed the 245km road race in 6hr 23min 49sec, beating Italy's Davide Rebellin in a sprint finish.
Sanchez, 30, is one Spain's few specialists in the Classics – one-day races where tactical nous and fast decision-making are more valuable assets thanphysical endurance. Two top-three places in the Tour of Lombardy, one of cycling'shardest and most mountainous Classics, and Spain's first victoryin the equally challenging GP Zurich in Switzerland, both in 2006, are testament to Sanchez's one-day ability.
It was a surprise that Sanchez ended up racing on a pushbike at all. As a three-year-old he was already driving off-road motorbikes, and only started riding a bicycle to get to the motorbike circuits quicker.
His unusual route to professional cycling continued when he joined the Basque squad Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2000, as they have a policy of not signing anyone born outside the Basque Country. Despite coming from 200 miles further west in Oviedo, Sanchez got in because he had ridden as an amateur in the region.
Promoted to team leader in 2007, he caused uproar by announcing he would not take part in the Tour de France, Euskaltel's biggest target of the season. Under pressure, he did ride in the Tour this year, but oscillated unhappily between hunting for stage wins and going for the overall classification. He finished seventh.
Unconventional on the bike, Sanchez is no less a maverick off it. Clogged city roads mean most professional cyclists steer clear of urban dwelling, but Sanchez lives in a high-rise flat in his childhood suburb of Pumarin in the centre of Oviedo.
He has never been afraid of thinking outside the box in other ways: for example his usual policy is to attack on downhills, but yesterday he bided his time until the finish, a policy which confused his rivals.
interviewThe producer and activist, Trudie Styler, whose film 'Filth' is up for five film awards, is tapping into the industry's neglected female talent
musicBlack Sabbath have pulled off one of rock music’s great comebacks – against all odds
theatreTheatre's hitmaker Daniel Evans on 'Oliver' and bringing 'The Full Monty' to the stage
interviewHer estate has become the nation's glossiest food empire
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
food + drinkFestive snacks don't have to be fiddly, says Bill Granger
World Cup 2014 draw: Greg Dyke makes 'cut throat' gesture after England are drawn in 'Group of Death'
Ashes 2013-14: Mitchell Johnson is proving England are spent force
Ashes 2013-14: England's batsmen have got 'no bottle' says Geoffrey Boycott
World Cup draw 2014: England drawn with holders Spain in official Group Stage rehearsal
Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 1 match report: David Moyes powerless to prevent dismal defeat
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail