Carlos Sastre will return to racing for the first time in eight months at the Tour of Catalunya on Monday. The Cervélo TestTeam rider has not raced since finishing 17th in the Tour de France last July.
“It's the only race I'm going to ride before the Giro d'Italia and I'll use it to see how my training is going and what I have to improve on to arrive at the Giro in the best condition," the Spaniard explained to Europa Press. "It is a very important test for me, because I can see everything I have done well or what I still need to do.”
Catalunya “has always been a demanding race,” the 2008 Tour de France winner continued. “I decided to be here this year because I think it can give me the chance I am looking for, which is to be at the start of the Giro in the best condition.”
While Sastre did not elaborate on why he has stayed out of racing for so long, he gave an indication, saying, “I've regained the spark and desire to race and compete.”
Last year, Sastre finished fourth in the Giro d'Italia, moving up to third after Danilo Di Luca was disqualified for doping. He started his Tour de France title defence strongly, but faded in the race's final week, eventually finishing 17th overall. 26:21 behind overall winner Alberto Contador.
After reviewing the routes of the three Grand Tours for 2010, Sastre announced in December that he would concentrate his efforts on the Giro d'Italia. However, he subsequently added the Tour de France to his list of priorities.