Carlos Sastre finished third in last year's Vuelta but is likely to end up second overall once the Roberto Heras case is finalised. If he lines out at the start in Malaga on August 26th his track record in Grand Tours would automatically make him one of the favourites; however, the fact that he has already ridden the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year means that he is tired and still deciding what to do.
Sastre said this morning that he was in the dark as to his current condition. "I really don't know," he stated. "Today will be the first real race since the Tour de France. For me, it has been a long and tough season. I don't know [about the Vuelta]. Today will be important, because before I was training hard but I need the race today to see exactly how I am. We will see."
"My final decision won't be today, but rather next Wednesday. I'll make my mind up on how this race goes and also on how I recover from it."
Sastre rode the Giro in support of team leader Ivan Basso and later took fourth (potentially third, if Floyd Landis is disqualified) in the Tour. He said that if he lines out in the Spanish tour, it would only be if he is sure of doing well. "If I go to the Vuelta it is to fight for the GC," he stated. "I will do my maximum to try to win the Vuelta a Espana. If I feel that I am not strong enough or if I feel that I can't recover in the right way, then I prefer to remain relaxed and do a different programme."
So is he happy about the course? Sastre doesn't express a feeling either way, more a sense of acceptance. "Well, the course is set already, you cannot change anything. If you go to the Vuelta you have to be ready for whatever parcours they have. But there are enough mountain stages and enough hard stages. There are mountains and time trials, so for me I think it is good."
As for the world championships, he remains unsure. "I don't know yet if I will ride. I will wait until after the Vuelta, then decide."