Vuelta a Espana

Sastre likely to skip Vuelta

Defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre says he’s all but certain to skip next year’s Vuelta a España and said he’s looking forward toward a possible showdown with Lance Armstrong at the 2009 Tour. Speaking to reporters at an engagement in Spain, Sastre reconfirmed that he’ll likely start the Giro d’Italia to prepare for the Tour and then skip the Vuelta, where he finished third overall in September.

Giro-Tour top focus for defending Tour champ

By Andrew Hood

Sastre will probably race the Giro and the Tour, but skip the Vuelta.

Sastre will probably race the Giro and the Tour, but skip the Vuelta.

Photo: Graham Watson

Defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre says he’s all but certain to skip next year’s Vuelta a España and said he’s looking forward toward a possible showdown with Lance Armstrong at the 2009 Tour.

Speaking to reporters at an engagement in Spain, Sastre reconfirmed that he’ll likely start the Giro d’Italia to prepare for the Tour and then skip the Vuelta, where he finished third overall in September.

“There’s a very high percentage of possibilities that I will not race the Vuelta,” Sastre said. “The objectives that I will set for next year are the Giro and the Tour. That would be three grand tours in one season, which is too much.”

Sastre, who is set to join the Cervélo Test Team next season, said he will finalize his racing schedule when he meets with team staff during a December training camp.

After racing for six seasons with Bjarne Riis at Team CSC, where he finally broke out to win the Tour in dramatic fashion in July, Sastre said he’s excited about joining the start-up Cervélo team.

“It’s a beautiful challenge that I am confronting with a lot of excitement and motivation,” he said. “It’s a big change to make at 33, especially realizing that I could have been just fine on my current team, but given the importance of changing teams, that’s why I decided to make the decision.”

Sastre also said he welcomes the high-profile comeback of seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong.

“I have all the respect in the world for Armstrong, but we’ll see if he races the Tour,” he said. “We have to give him time to start his season and see what happens, and then we’ll be able to see, but right now, what he needs now is the respect from all.”

Sastre said he looks forward to a clash with Armstrong if the Texan does decide to race the Tour after competing in the Giro.

“This is the first opportunity I will have to beat him and this motivates me,” Sastre said. “When Armstrong was in his full splendor, he only raced one grand tour, the Tour. I cannot imagine that he will race two grand tours. I’ve never seen him do it and I doubt I will.”