Sanchez snatches gold after baffling his rivals

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
gaming
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible