Geox-TMC team leader Carlos Sastre is set to ride the full calendar of Spanish races leading into the start of the Vuelta a España on August 20. Having finished third in the recent Tour of Austria, the 2008 Tour de France champion wants to “raise the level I achieved in Austria” as he heads into his national tour, where he has twice finished as runner-up.
Sastre’s Vuelta build-up is set to begin at the GP Villafranca on July 25, the day after the conclusion of his current commentating commitment at the Tour with Spanish TV. He is then set to appear at the San Sebastián Classic on July 30, the Circuito de Getxo on July 31 and the Vuelta a Burgos (August 3-7).
“The goal is to improve a little on the level I achieved in Austria, where to be honest my form was very good. Now I need to work out how best to combine training, competition and rest in order to arrive at the start of the Vuelta with good form and the opportunity to go into it with the prospect of performing well,” said Sastre.
The former Tour champion admitted it has been strange to watch the race on television for the first time in 10 years. “It’s an odd feeling, because up to this year I was one of the race’s contenders,” he said. “I’m following it with a lot of interest because it’s an intriguing race with the result still in the balance.”
Looking ahead to the Vuelta, Sastre looks increasingly likely to face some of the big names who crashed out of the Tour during the nervy first week. Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins has already committed himself to a debut appearance at the Vuelta, while Omega Pharma-Lotto leader Jurgen Van den Broeck has also indicated he will start if he recovers quickly from his Tour injuries.
With two-time Vuelta winner Denis Menchov, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and Euskaltel duo Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve also slated to ride, the line-up of contenders for the Vuelta’s red jersey is looking increasingly impressive.