With a deficit more than seven minutes to race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) appears to have lost his chance to win the 2010 Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard, who is now in 24th place overall, was involved in the same crash as maglia rosa wearer Vincenzo Nibali during stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia.
It was Sastre's second crash at the Giro; his other was during stage 1. Today, he crossed the line in Montalcino looking like a zombie. And while the Nibali finished two minutes behind stage winner Cadel Evans (BMC), the Spaniard finished five minutes and 20 seconds behind.
Saturday's stage was wet and featured sections of gravel roads, which had turned into mud due to the conditions.
"Today's stage was action-packed," said an extremely tired Sastre. "Frankly, it has been a tough and very difficult stage. In theory, it seemed as though everything was going pretty well, but the crash I had at the start of the stretch of dirt roads made all the difference and affected the stage results."
"I hurt myself quite badly in the crash and then changing my bike didn't work out well," he said. "I was having problems shifting up and down through the rear gears. Until the car caught up with me from behind, at the end of the first dirt stretch, I couldn't change bikes. We had to drop back to the group."
"Then at the end. With eight kilometres to go, I had a really bad time. If it wasn't for Xavi Tondo riding with me - he did such an amazing job and stayed with me every second - it would have been a lot worse."
Sastre came to the Giro with the overall win in his mind. His status as a Tour de France winner and his reputation as a great climber who won two mountain stages in this race last year made him a favourite even though he'd taken an extended break from racing after his disappointment in the 2009 Tour de France. Prior to the start of the corsa rosa, he had just eight days of racing in his legs.
However, the Spaniard thinks the Giro is not over for him. "Well, we've gone through another day in this Giro," he said. "The most important thing now is to recover from the crash, and although it's still tricky, the race is far from over," he said, wiping the dried mud from his face.
Stage 8 will give Sastre the opportunity to make up some time as it contains the first mountaintop finish at the top of the Terminillo.