Giro d'Italia: Bettini believes in Sastre
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Bettini believes in Sastre

by Jered Gruber at 2:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Italian tips Spaniard for top slot.

Paolo Bettini sees one name above all others in the race for the final Maglia Rosa in Verona: Carlos Sastre. Bettini recently spoke with Italy's second-largest daily circulation paper, La Repubblica.

As always, Il Grillo had some opinions well worth noting. Of course, Bettini was not surprised that the riders were greeted with carnage and woe in Holland: "I knew it would be hard on the riders in Holland. The wind and the roads in that country make stages almost as tough as those in the mountains. There are already significant time gaps, and the race has just begun. Indeed, the race begins with the team time trial tomorrow. Everything is still to be decided."

Bettini feels that current Maglia Rosa, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), is a rider with a solid chance to take the overall victory, but the massive mountains of the final week will be his demise according to the former Giro stage and points jersey winner.

"I think he has a great chance of getting to Verona with the Maglia Rosa. Certainly, his team has raced impressively in the windy conditions and treacherous roads of Holland, but I do not think he is well equipped for the climbs that the riders will face in the last week. He is less of a climber than some of his opponents, and if you crack on the Zoncolan, Gavia, Mortirolo, etc, the gaps can be counted in minutes rather than seconds."

The former two-time World Champion does not give much hope for overall victory to his Italian brethren either: "I do not see many that can compete. I think that Basso will do a great Giro, but I do not see him on the top step of the podium, rather, I see some older riders going strong, such as Garzelli. He is proving to be a great professional, one who, even at 37, has the strength to make the sacrifices to be a great racer."

For Bettini, the Italians and Vinokourov will have a difficult time handling the rider that stands above the rest, in his eyes, as the rider to watch en route to Verona: Carlos Sastre.

"I see the Spaniard, Sastre, as the rider to beat. He has already shown last year on Vesuvius and Monte Petrano that when the road goes uphill, he will always be there."

Bettini considers the racing before the big mountains hit as critical to taking down Sastre if there is going to be any chance at all.

"I believe that if they race quietly and don't attack him early, it will be difficult to take him down. He is a rider that gains strength with each passing day. If he does not lose time on the stage to Montalcino where the dirt roads require the riders to be agile like cats, then he will be hard to beat in the end."

Bettini's confidence in Sastre is such that he's putting the overall time gaps needed ahead of the race's first mountaintop finish to the Terminillo on Stage 8 in the multi-minute range.

"I think they'll need at least three minutes. Otherwise, as soon as they get to the Terminillo, it will become very difficult for the others."


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