By Gregor Brown in Bagnères de Bigorre
Spaniard Carlos Sastre is ready to face the Tour de France's second of five mountaintop finishes, Hautacam, for his first time in his career on Monday in stage ten.
"It is a really hard stage. We will do high mountains like the Tourmalet and Hautacam, and those will make a difference," said Team CSC's Sastre to Cyclingnews 24 hours before the stage.
The 1520-metre Hautacam comes at the end of a 156-kilometre day, preceded by two category three climbs and the Col du Tourmalet. Hautacam featured as a stage finish three times in the past, most recently won by Javier Otxoa in 2000.
"I have never raced the Hautacam; I have only done it in training," Sastre said after stage nine. "It is a really hard mountain. The gradient stays the same all the way up from eight to 10 percent and you don't have any time to recover."
Sastre is currently tenth overall at 1'34" from race leader Kim Kirchen. CSC-Saxo Bank will use the Hautacam to take advantage of its rivals with its three captains: Sastre, and Brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck. "It is really hard one," said Sastre.