Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, who is poised to take his second Grand Tour podium of the season in the Vuelta a España, gave an uncharacteristically critical assessment of his CSC-Saxo Bank team manager in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE. Or did he? Sastre, who will leave Bjarne Riis' team to join the nascent Cervélo TestTeam, was quoted as saying Riis "divided the team", and criticized the Dane for not pushing the squad to a better performance in the race.
However, CSC-Saxo Bank spokesman Brian Nygaard denied that the comments came from Sastre. "I just got off the phone with Carlos, and he flat out denies having said anything like that," he told Cyclingnews. "And I honestly trust Carlos' words more than any Spanish media."
After Sastre's move to the Cervélo team became official, Riis was gracious in his response, saying, "He's been a fantastic rider to have on the team and we wish him all the success and happiness in the world." Riis finished the statement by saying "I'm hoping he'll be able to finish off this season with a great result in the Vuelta," indicating that he still had ambitions for the Spanish Tour.
The interview, which was picked up by most of the Spanish newspapers, painted Sastre as more mentally exhausted than physically tired, and then quoted Sastre as saying, "If I was physically tired, I wouldn't be third [in the Vuelta]. One has to be realistic. There is a person who has harmed and divided the team from the beginning. He continues to do damage, and that person didn't want that this team do anything in the Vuelta a España. That was his intention - he has harmed everyone."
Sastre reportedly continued, praising the efforts of the team, but blamed "this person" for failing to push the team to do better. Instead, he said, " that person has been dividing." When asked if he was referring to Riis, Sastre replied only, "He is the leader of the team, right?"