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Three Grand Tours taking a toll on Sastre

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) just before the start

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) just before the start (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) says he’s still motivated despite a deficiency in form which has led to the Spaniard losing more time to the Vuelta a España’s main general classification contenders. Sastre finished 1:34 minutes behind the event’s stage four winner and was also unable to remain with the group of race contenders.

"I'm not at my best at the moment but I am still feeling enthusiastic and that motivates me to keep fighting on every day - even though I can see that there are a lot of people who have come to the race feeling a lot fresher than myself," he said.

"When I decided to compete in the Vuelta a España, I knew that my decision to ride in three big tours in one season was a difficult challenge, especially in a year in which, for various reasons, I have been on an awkward footing with falls, setbacks and medical problems," added Sastre.

Sastre has contested all three Grand Tours this season, with the Giro d’Italia in May his strongest performance this year. Sastre finished eighth at the Italian race but struggled at July’s Tour de France, where he finished down in 20th place.

"It hasn't been at all easy to reach my goals in the best conditions. But at the end of each race I always feel a special satisfaction and happiness that makes me want to keep on fighting," he said. "That helped me to make this decision and that is why I'm here, competing in the Vuelta a España."

Sastre has been a consistent performer at his home Grand Tour, having finished inside the top five in all five of his past appearances at the race. He has twice been runner-up in the event, finishing second in 2005 and 2007, however it looks unlikely the 35-year-old will repeat that success this year.

Sastre sits 2:15 minutes off the race lead in 22nd place, after losing time to Nicolas Roche (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne), Frank Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), Marzio Bruseghin (Caisse d’Epargne) and teammate Xavier Tondo on yesterday’s stage.

"Tomorrow will be a slightly quieter day and from thereon in we will be back in hard terrain with steep slopes and some excitement at the end of the stage, which is what is making this race spectacular in every sense," he said.