Sastre aiming to win Giro, but still won’t commit to the Tour
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sastre aiming to win Giro, but still won’t commit to the Tour

by Conal Andrews at 9:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia
 

2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre will seek to add a Giro win to his list of career results and, for the moment, continues to hold off on committing to the Tour de France.

The 34 year old Cervélo Test Team rider has indicated he will definitely ride the Italian Grand Tour this season and is determined to improve on his two stage wins plus third overall of last season. He will decide at a later date if he will ride the Tour or the Vuelta a España.

“We still don’t know what [Grand Tours] I will race, but it is certain that I will start in the Giro,” he said, answering questions in a video chat on his website. “Without thinking too much about the Tour, I am aware that the Giro is my first goal of the year. I'm preparing well and want to get into the condition that a race of that category deserves.”

It’s well catalogued that being in top condition in both the Giro and the Tour is a very difficult task. Marco Pantani was the last rider to achieve the Giro-Tour double, doing so in 1998. Giro victor Denis Menchov’s spectacular collapse in last year’s Tour illustrates what happens when things go wrong.

However, even with that fact in mind, Sastre appears willing to risk it. Pointing out that the 2010 route benefits climbers, and stating that he has the “motivation and desire to do something important,” he said that he is excited to head back to Italy.

"Last year I had good sensations and I want to start like this in 2010. I think the Giro is the most dramatic race and that is why I have opted for it again this year.

“It's a race that I like very much that benefits me with my status as a climber, and hope to be at a higher level than last year. I rode very well, I won two stages, but I lacked a little spark and that didn’t allow me to be at the level that I wanted, even if I was with the best. This year, with the experience of last year, I will try to do the maximum possible. "

Sastre’s reference to experience is multi-faceted. Aside from being a year older and having settled into his role as Cervélo’s Grand Tour leader, he also knows what to expect from the Italian race. In addition to that, he realised that he overextended himself after winning the 2008 Tour de France, both in terms of commitments and also the stress of high achievement and expectation.

Sastre was only 17th in last year’s Tour and attributed his collapse in form to cumulative exhaustion. He has rested since that race and promises to be fresher this season.

"I will go [to Italy] with more calmness and more time for rest, something that I didn’t have last year,” he explained. “It is a very attractive Giro. I think it is a race that benefits the climbers, among whom I include myself. The last ten days are really tough and any stage can be decisive.

“Last year the race left me feeling good and want to start with those same feeling this year 2010. Of course, I go to the Giro because I have a lot of motivation and desire to do something important in that race, and even more so at a time like this."

The reality is that Sastre knows that with riders such as Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong all aiming their seasons completely around the Tour, there are no guarantees that he could win another edition. He appears to have decided to base everything around winning a different Grand Tour, even if that could affect his form if he opts to race in France afterwards.

"This year I will do things like last year. There were people who said I had gone too well the Giro and that it took its toll on the Tour, but I think they are two completely different competitions. I think I am a little masochistic, I like to hit myself twice with the same stone [to dig deep twice in a season] and I want to try,” he said.

Being non-committal to the Tour does however pose a slight risk to his Cervélo Test Team. It is one of many squads vying for a wildcard place in the Tour de France, and these places will be announced in the coming weeks. While it has riders of the calibre of Heinrich Haussler and Maillot Vert Thor Hushovd, who both won stages last year, the team would undoubtedly be a bit weaker if Sastre didn’t ride.

Cervélo will therefore hope that the Spaniard’s indecision about taking part this year won’t affect their chances of getting the nod from Tour organisers ASO.

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