Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) survived the first real Alpine test of this year's Tour de France, finishing in a group of pre-race favourites including Alberto Contador (Astana), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas). The 2008 Tour winner moved to 12th overall in the process, and now sits 2:40 down on Evans in the general classification.
"I am satisfied with today's stage," he said at the finish in Morzine. "I was with the leaders of the race and I didn't lose time to any important riders in this Tour de France. It was a very hard stage today. The first nine days of the Tour were not easy for anyone. I am happy that all the problems we had at the beginning of the race are behind us. Now everything is good. I am feeling better every day and can be optimistic for the coming days. I am very satisfied."
Sastre was under pressure on the final climb, dangling near the back of the lead group as attack upon attack rained down. However, his experience shone through and the dogged Spaniard clung on, setting his own pace and surviving. Like in yesterday's stage 7, he did just enough and finished at the back of the main group of favourites.
"The last two kilometres were hard, but the last 15 kilometres were very hard. We were there, and I had the support from my teammates that I needed."
With a rest day tomorrow, Sastre will have time to recover, but in the Pyrenees he may need to go on the offensive if he is to compete for a place on the podium in this year's race.
Team directeur Jean-Paul van Poppel was satisfied with his rider's start the Tour.
"I am really happy with today's stage. You see in the first mountain stage that there are only 13 riders are left in the final, and Carlos is there. We also saw other riders have some troubles. It's a wonderful start, because we know we only get better from here. It's really a pleasure to work like this with the team this strong. I am happy. It's the first mountain stage, but it's really important.
"We got the green jersey in the start of the first week. Now Carlos is doing well in the climbs in the first Alps in stage 8. We can be no more than very happy."
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