Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) could be considered the main loser of the breakaway on stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia, despite finishing second on the day behind Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) and putting in a great effort in defeat. He was the virtual pink jersey holder until the very last kilometre of racing but he finished second in Sestri Levante and narrowly missed taking over the GC lead from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). Ivan Basso’s Liquigas-Cannondale team closed the gap to less than four minutes and Casar missed out on the pink jersey and lies in third place in the GC behind Rodriguez and Ryder Hesjedal.
The last Frenchman to have worn the pink jersey was Laurent Jalabert in 1999. But Casar wasn’t thinking of making history this way. “I only rode for the stage win”, he told Cyclingnews on the finishing line at Sestri Levante. “With [BMC’s Ivan] Santaromita only 15 seconds down on me on GC, I couldn’t just ride hard at the front because he would have countered me. I couldn’t give everything for the pink jersey.”
When Lars Bak attacked, ultimately decisively, he expected another rider to go and catch the Dane.
“I’m very disappointed”, Casar admitted. “I had marked this stage as mine since the start of the Giro in Denmark. This was an occasion to win that I might never have again.” He wasn’t bitter about the actions of Liquigas-Cannondale: “The finale was dangerous and it was important for them to position their leader [Ivan Basso] and keep him out of danger.
“I would have liked to go under the radar as I’m now racing outside France but I have a name in cycling. I can’t do just whatever I want. The riders in the breakaway were asking me about my intentions to get the pink jersey.” However, stage winner Lars Bak didn’t have the correct information. He got to hear from his Lotto-Belisol team car that Casar was not dangerous for the pink jersey…
The triple stage winner of the Tour de France (Angoulême 2007, Bourg-Saint-Maurice 2009 and St-Jean-de-Maurienne 2010) had been lamenting about his state of form and health since the start of the Giro d’Italia in Denmark.
“I was coming out of two months of sickness”, Casar said. “It took me some time to get rid of the microbes but during the Giro, I’m feeling better and better. The sun helps. I don’t think that I’ll have any possibility to take the pink jersey. I might have a hard time in the mountains because of the health problems I had before. I won’t be up there in the Stelvio. I don’t like climbs over 2000 metres of altitude. But it’s a good thing for the future that I’m again able to race in the front.”
In a similar move, as he took part in a breakaway in stage 14 of the 2006 Giro d’Italia, Casar ended up sixth overall.