Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) finished a disappointing eighth overall in the Giro d'Italia, 9:39 behind Ivan Basso, despite gaining time on most of his rivals by being in the breakaway to L'Aquila on stage 11.
The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper gave the Spanish climber just four out of ten on its report card for the Giro because he started the race as one of the big favourites. He was criticised for only racing for eight days before the Giro and Gazzetta went as far as suggesting he was a rider close to retirement.
However Sastre has revealed that he rode most of the Giro with a back injury sustained in crashes in the opening stages in Holland and then worsened by a crash on the stage to Montalcino on the dirt roads.
Despite his poorer than expected Giro results, Sastre perhaps deserves praise for making to the finish in Verona and finishing in the top ten, rather than criticism.
"I don’t like to make excuses. I crashed and I crashed pretty bad but that's part of the game, it's one of the risks of cycling," Sastre told Cyclingnews.
"It wasn’t something I talked about because I didn’t want it to become an excuse. Everyone in the team knew about it but we didn’t talk about it to the press or the public because they can't help me when I'm on the bike. I just needed the help of my teammates, my soigneur and my osteopath."
"It was a tough experience but I did my best and I'm happy with what I achieved. I'm just happy that I was able to finish the Giro d'Italia. If I'd crashed harder, I might not have even made it to the end."
Tour de France or Vuelta Espana
Sastre has already hinted that he may not ride the Tour de France and opt for the Vuelta Espana instead.
Cervelo TestTeam will target the green points jersey with Thor Hushovd and so many of the riders selected for the Tour team will be there to help the Norwegian sprinter rather than help Sastre go for the yellow jersey.
Sastre said he will only ride the Tour if he can recover in time and be competitive in the overall classification.
"First I've got to recover. But if I feel okay, can be strong and think I can finish in the top seven in the Tour de France, I'll ride," he said.
"People say that I should automatically ride the Tour de France because I'm a former winner. But they also say that I should ride the Vuelta Espana. But there's only one Carlos Sastre. I can't ride everything."