Carlos Sastre (CSC) will enter his third grand tour this season as he lines up for the Vuelta a España as CSC's team captain. The Spanish rider, who finished on the podium in last year's race, declared himself ready after the Clasica San Sebastian last Saturday.
"I was a bit unsure of my form, so I wanted to postpone my decision till after San Sebastian," he told team-csc.com. "Both to test my form during the actual race but also to see how I felt for a couple of days after. I'm satisfied with the outcome and I feel ready to do the Vuelta."
Sastre's season was planned around him taking part in all three big stage races, but things changed when he was made captain in Tour de France after the Operacion Puerto induced withdrawal of Ivan Basso. "It's the first time I'm doing all three races in the same year, so it's very important to test my form before committing myself," said Sastre. "In the Vuelta I have to be in great shape from beginning till end, because it's a tough race with mountains already in the fifth, seventh and ninth stage. You have to be up to it for the entire three weeks."
The rest of the CSC team has yet to be finalised, but Sastre said, "It's important for me that we have happy and satisfied riders in this race, so I would prefer that we took riders who could maybe try for a stage themselves. I would think I'm to be captain of the team, which is why it was so important to test myself in San Sebastian to see whether I felt strong enough both physically and mentally.
"We've had some good results in Denmark and Germany lately, so this is also a positive sign for the team ahead of the Vuelta."
Sastre doesn't know who the main rivals will be in a race that's shaping up to have plenty of favourites. "I don't know yet, especially because you have to stay strong for the whole three weeks. I don't know if Pereiro can do as well as he did in Tour de France. Alexandre Vinokourov might be one of the favourites in the race - he's probably extra ready since he didn't do the Tour and Alejandro Valverde abandoned early in France.
"The most important thing is that I make sure I do my very best, and then we'll have to wait and see how far that will get me. My only goal so far is to do the best I can and I'm taking it one day at a time from here on."