With five days of racing yet to go, CSC head honcho Bjarne Riis believes that Sastre could still stand on the top step of the podium. "We will race with what we have and try the possibilities," he said this morning. "We will see if we can do something for Carlos, where that can end up. It is still possible for him to win. Valverde and Vinokourov look strong... but we will see."
Riis said he wasn't sure what the situation currently was with Ivan Basso, who is under investigation on suspicion of being involved with the Operación Puerto affair. If it is shown that he has been involved with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes in blood doping or other such practices, he will face a two-year ban from cycling and a four year ban from the ProTour.
Should this be the case, CSC will clearly need a big leader for the Grand Tours. Sastre has fared well thus far, finishing fourth in the Tour (third if Floyd Landis loses his title) and is looking likely to take a podium place in this Vuelta. Although he is now 31 years of age, Riis feels he can step up to a higher level next season. "Yes, of course he can," he said. "Carlos is always stable, always there."