Skip to main content

Riis hoping Sastre can draw strength from 'yellow jersey factor'

Will yellow give Sastre extra strength in the time trial?

Will yellow give Sastre extra strength in the time trial? (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Daniel Benson in Montluçon

If tomorrow lives up to its billing as a super Saturday stage, Carlos Sastre won't find much better support and experience than that of his manager Bjarne Riis and his directeur sportif Scott Sunderland.

Riis of course knows all about time trialing in yellow and wearing it to Paris as he did in 1996 and in the prologue in 1997. However he also knows all too well what can happen when things go wrong. Who can forget his nightmare on the roads around Disneyland Paris in the '97 Tour? His repeated mechanical problems and now infamous and YouTube-esque highlight as he hurled his futuristic Pinarello Swan time trial bike into a nearby French ditch.

Now though, the cool and collected Dane is in a entirely different position, as he guides his mercurial Spanish talent into what would surely be the ride of his life, if, and it's a big if, he holds onto the yellow jersey.

At the finish of Friday's stage a relaxed-looking Riis personified confidence. "Carlos needs to start fast, increase the speed and then sprint to the finish," he said with that all too familiar grin of his. "Seriously though, the yellow jersey will of course be a factor, we just don't know how much by."

Sunderland was more open when it came to the importance of the time trial. "He needs to start fast, but without sprinting off from the blocks. On the start line it's going to be the same for everyone who wants to win the stage or the overall."

But where does the pressure lie? With the Spanish climber, who is leading the race for the first time in his career, or with the all-rounder Cadel Evans? "At this point I think the pressure weighs on both of their shoulders. Evans maybe has more on his as he is the one that has to make up that time. Whether he's better or not isn't that important. He still has to get the work done," said Sunderland pragmatically.

If Sastre were to pull it off and ride into Paris triumphant - becoming the third Spaniard to win the race in as many years - Sunderland believes the Tour de France couldn't find a more deserving winner. "Carlos has been around for many years, and has missed the podium on occasions. For Australian cycling it would be fantastic if Cadel won but for cycling in general it would also be good for Carlos to win, especially after what's happened in Spanish cycling in the last few years. He'd be a great champion and a great ambassador for the sport."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1