Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) has reacted with both disappointment and dignity after receiving the news he and his team have not been invited to the 2011 Tour de France by organisers ASO.
The Tour organisers announced their list of 22 teams – including four wildcards today – with Geox-TMC, as many expected, missing out on a place in the sport’s biggest race. Four French teams at the same Professional Continental level as Geox-TMC have obtained wild card invitations. They are: Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun, FDJ and Team Europcar.
“We’re not going to Paris-Nice or the Tour. Well, that’s their decision and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Sastre said, hearing the news from Cyclingnews.
“Of course I would like to go to the Tour de France but if I’m not allowed then I’ll be free in July for the first time in 10 years.”
Sastre won the Tour in 2008 and despite failing to reach those heights in the last two editions of the race he was signed, along with Denis Menchov, as the Grand Tour leader of Geox-TMC. Menchov finished third in last year’s Tour and won the 2009 Giro d’Italia.
Sastre will now build his season around the Giro d’Italia in May and possibly the Vuelta later in the year. He dismissed the idea of leaving Geox-TMC in order to find a team with a Tour de France place.
“No, no, no. Just because we’re not allowed to go to the Tour de France? No, I don’t have any reason to leave my team. We will race in the Giro d’Italia, which is a really important, like the Vuelta, which is also important and something we can do. There are many more other races,” he said.
“The Tour de France for me is special and I wanted to be there but I’m not the person who decides that. They have their own philosophy and reasons and I’m not here to test that. It’s their decision. It’s just six months until the Tour and we’re not invited but we’ll do other races and the Giro will be my goal and I’ll still be able to test myself.”
Mauro Gianetti, the team’s boss had remained hopeful that the Geox-TMC would secure one of the four wild card places for the Tour de France after making a presentation to race organisers ASO in Paris last week. However he was unavailable for comment following the announcement of the Tour de France teams.
At 35 years old Sastre may well have ridden his last Tour but despite today’s news the Spaniard put on a brave face.
“I don’t know if 2010 will be my last Tour as a bike rider. We’ll have to see. Maybe I’ll stop this year and come back when I’m 38.”