forgotten going into this years Giro d'Italia was the performance of
2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre in the 2009 edition of the
The quiet Spaniard always manages to slip under the
radar of many race watchers, making waves only when it counts, on the
highest mountains of a Grand Tour.
Last year Sastre managed a 4th place finish, 3 minutes and 46 seconds down on race winner Denis Menchov.
Also in front of Sastre were two riders who are now either disgraced or
under a cloud for doping - Danilo Di Luca and Franco Pellizotti.
the way, Cervelo's Sastre also managed to win two of the hardest stages
of the 2009 race, the 237 km stage from Pergola to Monte Petrano and
the 164km killer from Avellino to Mount Vesuvius.
the 'real' podium from that race takes on a whole new flavour, and with
Menchov absent in defense of his 2009 title, why isn't Sastre considered
the outright favourite to win this year?
Indeed, outside of
Evans and possibly Basso, there isn't a single rider in the race with
the Spaniards current grand tour pedigree.
Who can forget his
attack on Alpe d'Huez in the 2008 Tour de France where he finished 2
minutes and 15 seconds ahead of Evans? Then followed up that ride with
the time-trial of his life on stage 20, preventing Evans from taking the
Remembering his outstanding performances in the
2008 Tour de France and 2009 Giro d'Italia, I see Sastre as second only
to Australia's Evans as the man to beat in this years race.
like Evans, Sastre is also faced with having to make a decision of which
race to prioritise, the Giro or the Tour?
Given the absence of
2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and second placed Andy
Schleck, you would have to think the Giro is the Spaniards best chance
to win a grand tour in 2010.
Sastre and Evans have closely
mirrored Giro performances so far, with both losing time after
involvement in some of the crashes in the Netherlands and both doing
enough in the time-trials to stay within striking distance of the race
Both are also closely positioned on the general
classification with Evans only 14 seconds ahead of Sastre - with the
seriously hard stages yet to come.
It is in the final eight
stages where I expect the Spaniard (and Evans) to seriously launch
himself into contention for the overall title.
There I expect to
see Sastre really open up on the 218 kilometre 15th stage from Mestre to
Monte Zoncolan and particularly the stage 16 12.8 kilometre mountain
individual time-trial to the Plan de Corones, which follows the final
"I am looking forward to the first climbing stage,
because the race will be more organized than now once we get into the
mountains this weekend," Sastre said following the 5th stage.
the first five stages aren't we all looking forward to a rise in the
In fact I expect to see Sastre in pink following the Plan
de Corones time-trial, with Evans perhaps closely following, biding his
time until the last three days where two mountain stages and a closing
individual time-trial await.