Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) used the weekend to fine-tune his conditioning for the Vuelta Castilla y León which starts today, and is feeling confident going into the Spanish race. "I am arriving at Castilla y León [in] better [shape] than last year," Sastre said. The race runs from March 24 to 28th. Sastre will toe the line along with his team-mates American Jason McCartney, sprint star Juan José Haedo, Iñigo Cuesta, Chris Anker Sørensen, Karsten Kroon, Jurgen Van Goolen and Vladimir Gustov.
Last year, Sastre made the Vuelta Castilla y León his first race back after a crash in the Vuelta a Murcia put him on the sidelines for a short time, and with just one week of preparation he had a mediocre race. This year he intends to fare better after taking ninth place in Murcia. "Yes, I think I am in better shape than last year. The injuries and the problems of last year are mostly gone and my sensations are better. Everything is going well, as anticipated," said Sastre, but cautioned that he doesn't have a real objective. "Those first races are a test for me, to see how it is going overall. I haven't planned anything special. I prefer to take it day by day, measuring myself as the race goes on."
Sastre had nothing but praise for the route. "In my opinion it is very good for the preparation that I want to do. There is a short time trial [9.7km - ed.], one flat stage and the rest is on difficult terrain; what we call rompepiernas [leg breaker - ed.]. Those are are very good requisites to go after those results that I am looking for."
In this tour in northern Spain he will encounter competitors that will be his direct rivals in the Tour de France. But Sastre said that there won't be any conclusions made for the big event in July. "No, I don't think there will be anything to see, because it is one thing how we are in this last week of March, but it is something completely different how we will go in July." He added that "of course it is always a good feeling if you are going well and that the other riders, against which you will race in the biggest race in the world, are more or less at your level. Then you know everything is going well."