Carlos Sastre, 2008 Tour de France champion, has taken the time to reflect on the past year. On his personal website, the Cervélo leader stated that while not everything went to plan in the last season, the year's outcome has been "enriching in every sense".
First, there was his involvement in setting up the new Cervélo TestTeam, which made Sastre "feel enthusiastic once again" after leaving his former team CSC. "[Cervélo] was created with a different philosophy and I was able to contribute both my experience from so many years in the profession and my personal seal."
But this new beginning also had a negative side to it. "I have to admit that the physical and mental energy taken up in setting up the team became apparent at certain moments of the season," he said. "I sometimes felt a tiredness that was often more mental than it was physical. But as a general overview, I am satisfied with what I was able to contribute and what I have received from this great experience."
After a season start at the Tour of California somewhat overshadowed by the bad weather and a resulting sinusitis, Sastre followed his racing schedule to be competitive at the Giro d'Italia. "Racing the Giro was intense and I really enjoyed this race," he continued, saying that his experiences at the 'Corsa Rosa' taught him valuable lessons about himself.
"The two mountain stage victories, which were two very important stages in this Giro [stages 16 and 19 - ed.], gave me the opportunity to experience a new part of me: trying to fight for these stage victories that until now hadn't seemed interesting to me. I had always been a lot more focused on the general classification without concentrating on stage victories. This has helped me to carry on building my knowledge and personal experiences, allowing me to know things about myself that I had forgotten in recent years."
In July, however, the Spaniard went through difficult times again, due to general fatigue. "During the Tour, I experienced some of the worst moments of this season. I started with enthusiasm and thinking that I was in good shape (...) but it didn't take me long to realise that something wasn't right. I didn't know what was happening, but I really didn't feel in good shape over the last few days. There was a series of feelings and sensations that stopped me from being at the level that I wanted to be. Then I realised that riding at top level in four Grand Tours in only 13 months added to the tiredness of so many social activities that I was involved in after winning the Tour in the autumn of 2008, and all the energy taken up with creating the Cervélo team, had taken its toll on me."
Finally, Sastre concluded that phases of recovery were necessary to continue his career at the highest level. "After the Tour all I could think about was resting with my family. Disappearing as far as I could from the public scene and recovering from so much built-up tiredness and tension. Over the months, I have come to realise that rest is the best medicine to recover your body and mind. And I have come to the conclusion that 2009, with its good moments and bad, has been a year that has taught me a lot."