Shorts: Boonen, Contador, Sanchez

Boonen gets a new jersey for Ghent-Wevelgem, Basque Country favourite Contador says the race will be

Boonen gets a new jersey for Ghent-Wevelgem, Basque Country favourite Contador says the race will be


Tom Boonen has been given the OK by the International Cycling Union to wear a jersey that combines both the rainbow stripes of the world champion and the white colour and logos of the ProTour leader in Wednesday's Ghent-Wevelgem.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Quick Step team boss Patrick Lefvre revealed that Boonen, who wants to defend his Paris-Roubaix title on Sunday in the world champion's colours, will be able to do so even assuming he still leads the ProTour after Ghent-Wevelgem. Asked when he made the request of the UCI, Lefvre responded: "At the end of last December. You have to anticipate these kind of things."

- Alberto Contador is now the favourite for overall victory in the Tour of the Basque Country despite losing out on yesterday's second stage to Samuel Sanchez. The Liberty Seguros rider said afterwards "the most important thing was to gain time overall. The best aspect of the day was the fact that I felt good and managed to gain time at a stage finish that didn't suit me, because it wasn't at a summit," said the 23-year-old Madrid-born rider.

Contador said his plan for this season was to "be in top form during April, but without focusing on victories, because if that had been the goal I could have gone to easier races. For example, I could have avoided the Classics, but I prefer to gain experience of them," explained Contador, whose goal after the Classics is the Tour of Romandy.

He added that this year's Basque Country route does not suit him as much as last year's when he won the final time trial and finished third overall. "This route seems much harder than it is in reality and there are no summit finishes, which means that you can't gain big gaps. Because of that victory will be decided in the time trial and will be disputed by more riders than last year."

- After an almost kamikaze descent from the final hill on stage two took him across to the leaders and eventually led to his stage victory, Samuel Sanchez said that he had "kept a very cool head" because "I knew the descent and I was able to take some risks with the firm intention of reaching the leaders and then giving everything I had up to the finish."

The only non-Basque rider on the Euskaltel squad added: "When I caught them I didn't look back, I just attacked again two or three times to drop them all, but Contador managed to stay with me. In the end, though, the gamble paid off well."

Sanchez, who dedicated this as he does all of his victories to his late mother Amparo, who died seven years ago of cancer, said the Euskaltel team had ridden well in every race this season "but we hadn't managed to finish things off". He admitted it was very emotional to take his team's first win of the season on home ground. "This will calm us and give us confidence, as it will our sponsors," he said pointedly, following recent rumours of Euskaltel pulling their support.

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