Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) may be without a big win in two seasons but his third place finish in today's Tour of Lombardy had the taste of victory, according to the Spaniard.
The 34-year-old put in one of his best performances this year, attacking from a group of favourites including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) and Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the closing kilometres.
Although he was unable to catch Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli), he hung on for third in atrocious conditions.
"This third position has a taste of victory and this is a reward for the work made during the season," he said.
"It was my eleventh participation in this race, which is my favourite along with the Tour of Flanders. I really want to thank all my teammates because of their help - they gave me drinks from the car, clothes and anything I needed."
Lastras had come into the race in decent form, finishing in the top 25 in the Tour of Poland, Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, Paris-Tours and Gran Piemonte. With the course changes made to today's Tour of Lombardy, Lastras believed that the new route suited him.
"Today it was a good day for me because of the long slopes, but no big percentages, and also because of the rain and the descents which were made for skilled riders. The only negative point was the moment when I was leading the race with Gilbert and Scarponi; I had to decrease my pace because my muscles were cold. I could recover later and afterwards I attacked to get the last place in the top three."
Lastras has spent his entire professional career with the Spanish squad joining the team, then known as Banesto, in 1998. He has won stages in each of the three Grand Tours, including two victories at the 2002 Vuelta a España.
With the team changing sponsor to Movistar for 2011 Lastras has extended his contract. However, before setting his sights on next season, the Spaniard has just one thing on his mind.
"Now, it´s time for holidays," he said.
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