Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) started the Giro d'Italia as one of the three big-name overall contenders alongside Cadel Evans (BMC) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana). But after just eight days of racing he has admitted he has no chance winning the race.
The 2008 Tour de France winner lost precious seconds in the Netherlands and in the team time trial but lost any chance of overall victory on the dirt roads to Montalcino due to a crash and mechanical problems. He finished 5:20 down, hurt his back in the crash and lost a further minute to the other overall contenders on the climb to Terminillo. When the other contenders surged clear in the final four kilometres, Sastre was unable to go with them. He is now 21st in the general classification, 8:10 behind Vinokourov.
"At the moment I'm suffering, suffering and suffering," Sastre told Cyclingnews on the steps of the team bus.
The Giro is not over, there's still a lot of important stages to come, but as everyone saw, the overall is not my goal anymore. I'm eight minutes behind and the other guys are really strong. That's why I told Xavier Tondo to attack and do his own race. He's in really good shape and I'm not here to block my teammates and make them ride for me."
Sastre is experienced enough to know that he can only fight on and hope to recover for the final week of the Giro in the mountains. He lost time during the last year's Giro but went on to win two mountain stages and finish third. He now hopes to do the same this year.
"It's been a very difficult first week. I just hope to come back step-by-step and recover from all the crashes and all the problems I've had,' he said.
"We knew before the start of the Giro that it would be a difficult first week. We knew it would be crazy in Holland and on the white roads. I didn’t do anything wrong, I was just unlucky. I broke my bike, a wheel, I had to take everything and fight on. Today I just stayed on the wheels because I can't do any more at the moment. Hopefully I can be better later on."