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Giro d'Italia

Carlos Sastre cannot catch a break at 2010 Giro d’Italia

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) would like to hit the repeat button and do the entire first week of the 2010 Giro d’Italia all over again.

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Daniel Lloyd gives team captain Carlos Sastre a wheel.
Teammate Daniel Lloyd gives his captain Carlos Sastre a wheel on stage 6.

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) would like to hit the repeat button and do the entire first week of the 2010 Giro d’Italia all over again.

The 2008 Tour de France champion came into this year’s Giro with high ambitions for all-out victory, but after a week of crashes, punctures and simple bad luck, his GC chances have all but evaporated.

Sastre’s bad luck continued Monday, when he punctured with less than 25km to go and lost contact with the front GC contenders, ceding 1:49 on the day when he could ill afford to give up more ground. He sank to 22nd overall at 9:59 back.

“All the time I’ve lost so far has nothing to do with my physical condition,” Sastre said tersely after Monday’s rain-drenched stage.

Cervélo didn’t bring a sprinter to the Giro so they could have all eight men riding for Sastre. With a brutal second half of the Giro, this year’s corsa rosa seemed tailor-made for Sastre’s climbing legs and grand tour experience.

Despite racing just eight days from the end of last year’s Tour coming into this year’s Giro, Sastre said he’s in fighting shape. Things started off well enough in Amsterdam, when he only lost 25 seconds to the specialists in the opening time trial.

Cervelo TestTeam
A strong TTT kept Sastre in the hunt

But Sastre crashed hard the next day, whacking his back when he hit the deck with 7km to go and lost 37 seconds to the front group. Sastre avoided crashing the next day to Middelburg, but got caught up behind another crash and lost 46 seconds.

Once back in Italy, Cervélo put down a great TTT, tying for fifth. The next day saw Sastre feeling better from his Holland spill and things were looking up.

Disaster struck on the epic muddy run to Montalcino, when Sastre hit the deck in the same crash that wiped out maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso (both Liquigas). Sastre later bonked in the closing 10km and lost more than 5 minutes.

Despite the setbacks, Cervélo sport director Alex Sans says there’s still an outside shot Sastre could rise to the occasion in the brutally hard final week.

“Logically, if you look at the times on GC, we have to be realistic,” Sans said. “But we have to remember that this is a very hard Giro. Normally, the third week is very hard, but it will be even more difficult due to the grueling first week we’ve had. It’s been very long, very hard, very fast, with a lot of stress and rain. I think that’s going to cause a lot of damage in the third week.”

Sastre’s been known to pull a surprise or two in his career, but coming back from a nearly a 10-minute deficit could be a mountain too far, even with the Mortirolo, Monte Zoncolan and the Gavia looming in the final week.