Carlos Sastre already on back foot in Vuelta a España
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Carlos Sastre already on back foot in Vuelta a España

by Shane Stokes at 7:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Spaniard admits not being on his best form yesterday, but is not panicking

Carlos SastreAfter two days of racing in the Vuelta a España, former podium finisher Carlos Sastre is already on the back foot as regards his battle for a high overall place. The 2008 Tour de France winner is co-leader with Denis Menchov in the team, but is now in 104th overall, one minute and three seconds off the red jersey of Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek).

Sastre’s woes are the combined effect of Saturday’s and Sunday’s results. In the opening team time trial, the Geox TMC squad was hampered somewhat by the crash of David Blanco. It placed only 21st out of 22 teams, losing 43 seconds to the day’s winner Leopard Trek.

Yesterday’s second stage was also troublesome, with the Spaniard finishing 20 seconds back in 97th place.

“It wasn’t the best day of racing for me today,” he conceded afterwards. “I lost twenty seconds upon reaching the finish line due to several splits. The riders who were sprinting on the final climb started to open up on both sides and that meant caused a number of splits in the group, and I was involved in one of them.”

Menchov fared better, netting 30th in the dash to the line and consequently gaining 20 seconds on Sastre. He’s won the race twice in the past and much as Sastre would love to clock up a Vuelta victory before the end of his career, he knows that things need to step up for him not to end up as riding in support for the Russian.

Sastre says he’s not panicking yet about the situation. “I wasn’t on my best form today in any case,” he conceded, but added, “it's the start of the Vuelta and the bonuses will play an important part in the race. What lies ahead is what's most important, as this has only just begun.”

Sastre, Menchov and the rest of the team simply must ride strongly in the race. The Geox TMC squad was set up last winter with a solid budget, but was passed over for a WorldTour licence when it didn’t have enough high-ranking riders to put it into the top 15 in the UCI’s hierarchy of teams.

This meant that it missed out on riding the Tour de France and, following a quiet performance in the Giro d’Italia, it is under pressure to deliver in Spain. The two team leaders will have a better chance to show their form tomorrow when the race hits the first summit finish at the top of Sierra Nevada.

If Sastre can perform solidly there, he’ll get his Vuelta back on track. Otherwise, he may need to reassess his goals for the race.

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