Despite Alberto Contador being absent and a clear number-one favourite missing, Samuel Sánchez refuses to aim for the top step of the podium in July's Tour de France. Some four weeks before the grand départ, the Euskaltel leader is fixing his sights on the podium.
"As I've never won a Grand Tour, I'm not aspiring for the victory", he told Marca's Josu Garai. "That's why my goal is the top three. Contador's absence hurts my chances though - to some it's an advantage, but not to me. His style of riding, attacking and forcing a selection, suits me. I feel Wiggins and Evans are the top candidates, but we'll also have to watch out for Tony Martin's progression. And there's also Gesink, who's improved in the race against the clock".
This year's parcours is laden with time trial kilometres, 101,4 to be precise. Whether that's an advantage or not for the 34-year-old remains to be seen, but he's most of all happy there's no team time trial - naturally.
"There are a lot of crono kilometres this year, but everyone will have to get over the climbs all the same. If I'm in shape, TTs are good for me. But, instead of the time trial distance, what inspires me the most is the lack of a TTT - they usually handicap me".
Samu will head up the team's charge in the Dauphiné which commences this Sunday, and is off the back of a two week spell at altitude in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. He decided to head to France early though to scout out a so far untested climb which will feature in stage seven.
"I travelled to France on Thursday in order to check out the end of the seventh stage, the Planche des Belles Filles. All the other climbs we already know."
In the Dauphiné, Samu will be accompanied by Gorka Verdugo, Ricardo García, Egoi Martínez, Mikel Landa, Alan Pérez, Peio Bilbao and Jorge Azanza.