Although he is known for riding many Grand Tours, Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) now sees the Giro d'Italia as the only one in which he has not yet made the top three overall. The defending Tour de France champion took second and third in the two past Vueltas a España.
"Every time I rode the Giro previously, it was at the service of somebody else," he recalled in Venezia where he's ready to start his fourth Italian tour.
The first time Sastre started the Giro d'Italia in 1999, he worked for Laurent Jalabert on Team ONCE. Jalabert took fourth overall. In 2002, the year Tyler Hamilton finished second with a broken shoulder, Sastre raced it with Team CSC.
The third time was Sastre's masterpiece. Still with CSC in 2006, he helped then teammate Ivan Basso make his adversaries suffer large time gaps: runner-up Enrique Gutierrez finished more than nine minutes down on Basso. Gilberto Simoni was third at 12 minutes, and Damiano Cunego fourth at 18 minutes. Basso was subsequently suspended for his involvement in Operación Puerto, but was never stripped of the title because he admitted his intention to dope for the 2006 Tour de France. Basso denied having doped for the Giro d'Italia.
Now Sastre can ride for himself at Cervélo. "I really wanted to ride the Giro this year because the centennial makes it special, and I want to finish on the podium of all three Grand Tours," the Spaniard said. "I'm inspired by this race. I like the course. It's hard. It's good for climbers. I just hope we won't have as many transfers from stages locations to hotels as we had when I rode the Giro in the past."
The Tour de France winner hasn't yet produced any significant results for Cervélo but he's also never been a rider for the early part of the season as his focus has been on the Grand Tours. "I'm not yet at 100% of my capacities, but I'm getting there. Of course I have in mind to defend my title at the Tour de France, but I want to think of the Giro only for now. I'm really motivated for a good result at the end."