Quite sensationally for a pre-race favourite, it appears Samuel Sánchez is not aware of the changes made to this year's Amstel Gold Race parcours. The organizers have this year decided to cut two kilometres between the penultimate climb (the Keutenberg) and the final climb (the Cauberg) in order to encourage more aggressive racing. The change should suit a rider like Samu to a tee, but the man himself was surprised when quizzed about the route a day prior to the race.
"What, Amstel? Tomorrow? The finish is different?", he uttered to Cyclingnews on Saturday.
When informed about the change, he naturally seemed content though.
"Ah, that's much better. That'll make it harder for riders to catch back on after the Keutenberg".
Samu has been touted as one of the main favourites by rivals and pundits alike leading up to the Dutch race, but the Euskaltel captain was keen to downplay expectations.
"Joaquin Rodríguez showed in the Vuelta al País Vasco that he's got more power on the climbs. There's also the likes of Valverde, Sagan, Nibali and Evans to contend with. I'm not the favourite."
The 34-year-old was originally not slated for the hilly classics this year, but decided at the last minute to do Amstel. First of all, it's good training for the World Champs as this year's event will run over much the same terrain. Secondly, he's on strong form. Thirdly, Euskaltel need the WorldTour-points. Despite that, he'll head for home after Amstel and pass the torch to Igor Antón for Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I'll only do Amstel - then I'll travel home and relax. Perhaps I'll come back for Liège if my legs are up for it. If not, I'll start my holiday. I'll return in time for the Dauphiné and the Tour de France. Then the Olympics are up".
Samu will wear dossard number 31 tomorrow. Check out the full start list here.