By Antonio J. Salmerón
It would be hasty for any rider to draw conclusions about the racing season after just six days of competition, but the season is underway with some major competitions already finished and more on the horizon. Thus far, it's looking good for Team CSC's Carlos Sastre.
"I wanted to come to the Vuelta a Murcia focusing on the stage four time trial, and the truth is that the race has proved to be very positive in all aspects," said Carlos Sastre to Cyclingnews from Murcia. "It was a very demanding route, with top competition. Everything went as expected for me. I left the race happy." Sastre finished ninth overall in the five-stage event and seventh in the time trial of stage four.
The CSC climber, who will turn 33 years-old on April 22 said, "I am in an ideal moment in my professional cycling career – having reached full maturity and a fullness of condition, with sufficient experience and hampered by few past problems, and most importantly, I'm surrounded by a highly competitive team with very clear ideas."
Sastre is looking toward the Tour de France with more optimism than in previous years should he get the chance to go, but he first has to decide whether to race the earlier Giro d'Italia. "That decision will come if, after competing in the Vuelta al País Vasco, I am still short on form and in need more competition. I do not want to arrive as in other years. This time I want to be at the Tour in the best possible shape."
"This year's Tour de France has fewer time trialling kilometers, something which very important in that it favors me. Whether the Alps or the Pyrenees comes first does not matter to me – the order doesn't change the overall effect. The roads and profiles of the Pyrenees in the final week would make the race very hard."
Sastre said that if he does the Giro, he will not also be at the start of the Vuelta a España. "I will not do the three Grand Tours back to back," he said, sharing the opinion of a majority of riders.
With regard to the ongoing dispute between some race organizers and the UCI, Sastre said, "I am not going to show a preference for either the Grand Tour organizers or the UCI. We, the cyclists, are the ones who are losing. It is necessary, once and for all, that somebody establishes the same rules for all."
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