Luis Le?n S?nchez, whose last race was the Tour of Picardie, will compete again tomorrow in the Route du Sud. The French race will start this Thursday in Pau and will finish on Sunday in Castres after four difficult stages.
One month went by since your last race, which was the Tour of Picardie. How did you spend your time since then?
"It is true that plenty of time passed by since my last race. During these last weeks I trained everyday, hours and hours on the bike. I also trained in the mountains but without forcing the rhythm because I knew those four days in competition in the Route du Sud should help me to find the right rhythm. This is what I really need now and I hope that this race, which I don?t know because this is the first time I will take part in it, will give me the possibility to do that."
How do you feel on the eve of the start in Pau?
"I am feeling rather well but with a question mark because after the Tour of the Basque country I only took part in the Tour de Picardie, an only three days race and with awful weather. I am sure I will have to suffer a lot in the Route du Sud to reach the level I am looking for."
The Route du Sud is a difficult race but also a rather short one. Do you believe it is the ideal preparation before the Tour de France?
"I am sure that this race is a difficult one because we have to climb very difficult hills like the Tourmalet, the Soulor and the Portet d?Aspet. What I don?t know is if this is really the ideal preparation for the Tour. As for me I would have like to start in the Tour of Switzerland but I talked about that with my team and I was told that the Route du Sud is the best preparation for me. I hope it will be the case and that I will be able to reach the level I am still looking for."
The Tour will start in just two weeks from now. With which state of mind will you take the start of the time trial in Monaco?
"Motivated to do well but what I most hope is that Alejandro Valverde will be with us at the start of this Tour because the entire team is build around him. I want to be optimistic. But if he is not with us we will have to start all the same but everything will be different. The race would not be the same."
Before the Tour you will defend your title of Spanish champion in the time trial. Do you hope to renew your title?
"That race is of course on my mind but it is no obsession. If I am feeling well that day I will for sure try to win again but this year it will be really difficult because my team-mate Iv?n Guti?rrez will be more motivated than ever for racing at home in Cantabria and I believe he will be the favourite number one."