Sandy Casar trying to impact his first Giro d’Italia since 2006
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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Sandy Casar trying to impact his first Giro d’Italia since 2006

by Kyle Moore at 7:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
FDJ-BigMat veteran leading team with less pressure outside France

Sandy CasarThe location of his latest Grand Tour may be different, but the goals remain the same for FDJ-BigMat’s veteran all-rounder Sandy Casar. The Frenchman is riding his first Grand Tour outside of France in several years, and as the race gets mountainous in its second week, Casar will be on the hunt for a stage win as well as a solid place in the general classification.

Having been the primary threat for FDJ-BigMat in the Tour de France for the last few years, Casar has carved a niche in the Grand Boucle, winning multiple stages out of breakaways and taking reliable finishes in Paris. The team will look toward the younger Arnold Jeannesson for leadership this July, though one could expect to see Casar racing then as well.

But the 33-year-old said that his decision to take on the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2006 was one that he made himself.

“It’s a race I really like. It is true that I’ve wanted to come back since my last visit in 2006, but it was complicated to get to with the Tour de France [in July],” Casar said in an interview with Velochrono. “Returning to the Giro has always been close to my heart. It is a test that I like and I’ve always had good results. This is what prompted me to make the choice.

“Early in the season I spoke at length with my director sportif Martial Gayant about it. He also had the same idea, but it was I who made the final decision. That’s how it happened.

Casar had plenty of success in 2006, the last time he took on the Giro. He raced well in the mountainous final week, eventually taking sixth place overall behind winner Ivan Basso. Though he didn’t win a stage, he was sixth in the mountains classification as well.

While he has often had success in France, Casar noted a primary difference between the Giro and the Tour – a difference felt by even his veteran presence.

“The atmosphere – there is less stress than in the Tour de France,” Casar continued. “It’s a three-week stage race just like the Tour, but how it is raced is completely different. In my recollection, the Tour of Italy is quieter when it is easier to recover in stages dedicated to the sprinters. In terms of the media, it is also very different. A good performance in Italy is hardly recognized by the [French] public. However, everyone remembers a rider who has gotten a good finish in a Tour stage.”

His FDJ-BigMat team found out it had made it back into the World Tour at the beginning of the season, and when asked if his decision to race the Giro was influenced by the need for World Tour points, Casar said no.

“The result of this is pressure all year,” he replied. “This is not specific to the Giro d’Italia. All teams need to evolve in the World Tour. Every point counts. We want to stay at that level.”

As with some of the other second-tier contenders for the overall title in this year’s Giro, Casar will rely on building form in the first half of the race, with the hope of excelling in the decisive final week.

“The Giro is the main goal that I set earlier this week. I’m not sure where I am because I’m still at the start of the race,” he told Velochrono just before the race got underway.

“I hope to get better and better as the days go by, especially as the overall standings will be decided in the third week. Before considering a place in the top ten, I have it in mind to win a stage. Then we’ll see how it goes for me.”

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