Samuel Sánchez finished fourth overall at 2010 Tour de France and is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the men’s road race. In recent years, Sánchez has proven himself in hilly classics and stage races as one of the most important riders in the peloton.
Anyone who questions Sanchez’s toughness need only look to the 2008 Olympic road race for answers. Riding in 90% humidity and a heavy sheath of notorious Chinese smog, a group of about 25 cyclists broke away from the peloton—but Sanchez wasn’t among them. Somehow, thanks in large measure to his Spanish teammates, Sanchez managed to catch and pass the group in the final kilometers of the race. At the sprint to the finish line, Sanchez still found enough stamina to win the race by a wheel.