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By Andrew Hood
Sastre eyes Tour, Vuelta double; Michaelsen new DS
Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre isn’t about to fiddle with a formula that works.
The veteran Spanish climber confirmed once again he’ll race both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España with eyes toward podiums in both grand tours in 2008.
“I still haven’t finalized my schedule, but what’s sure is that I will race both the Tour and Vuelta again next year,” Sastre said during an awards ceremony in Spain. “As always, I will arrive in the best condition possible and try to do the best I can.”
Sastre has proven to be Mr. Reliability in grand tours, showing an uncanny ability to endure cycling’s longest and hardest races with consistency. In 2005-06, he raced and finished five consecutive grand tours in a streak that only ended when he didn’t race the 2007 Giro d’Italia.
Sastre, who turns 33 next spring, will remain one of Team CSC’s leaders along with the ascending Schleck brothers.
This season, Sastre expressed satisfaction after taking fourth at the Tour and second at the Vuelta.
“I was hoping for more at the Tour, but I am content that I was consistent like I always am. The day-in, day-out fight at the Vuelta to be on the podium was just what I needed to give me motivation to look to the future with optimism and motivation,” he said. “I’m getting older, but I still love what I do.”
Sastre also said he takes additional motivation from the reduction of time trials in the 2008 Tour de France course.
“I would by lying if I said the less number of time trial kilometers doesn’t benefit me. And without a team that will dominate the race, it will be a more wide-open affair,” he said. “The mountains will always be hard and the Pyrenees will show us who’s in contention. My goal will be for the podium and fight for the best possible result.”
In other Team CSC news, retired pro Lars Michaelsen will join the team as a new sport director for the 2008 season.
Michaelsen ended his 14-year pro career at Paris-Roubaix this season and decided to stay with the Team CSC organization.
“First of all, I’m really happy about the confidence which Bjarne (Riis) and the team have shown in me. It’s a huge challenge and I’m looking forward to it,” Michaelsen said on the team’s web page. “I have a lot of experience from a pro rider, but I’m ready to learn some new things. It will be exciting to work with the other sport directors and I look forward to passing on some of the ambitions I had as a rider to the 29 guys on the team.”
Sastre, Michaelsen and the other Team CSC staff and riders will convene for their annual team building camp next month in Norway.
Botero to Rock Racing?
Is Santiago Botero heading to Rock Racing?
That’s what the El Tiempo newspaper in Bogota is reporting. The Colombian cycling federation also confirmed the move.
Botero was looking at retirement at the end of the 2007 season, but he’s been enticed back into racing for one more campaign that could also include a run at the Beijing Olympic Games next summer.
Botero is expected to race in both the Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia for the U.S.-based team and perhaps have a return to international competition as part of the Colombian national team.
The time trial specialist will join compatriots Víctor Hugo Peña and César Grajales at the ever-improving Rock Racing team.
Botero, 34, won the Tour of Colombia this season racing for a Colombian-based team and said he would retire after facing few prospects to return with a major European squad.
Botero was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal, but was later officially cleared by Colombian cycling officials. Botero admitted knowing controversial Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, but denied being part of the alleged blood doping ring.
Mayo test delayed
Iban Mayo’s long-running doping case took another turn this week when the UCI decided to postpone a follow-up “B” test in the Spanish climber’s allegations that he took the banned blood booster EPO.
The UCI decided to postpone the test from this week until early December to give more time to anti-doping controllers.
Mayo’s EPO case has spun into controversy following disagreement between the UCI and the results of the counter-analysis. Mayo tested positive for EPO in urine samples taken on the Tour’s rest day, but a second round of testing carried out by labs in Belgium and reviewed by labs in Australia came back “non-negative.”
Mayo and Spanish authorities assumed that gave the Spanish climber the green light to resume racing, but the UCI is insisting on more analysis, this time carried out by the French lab in Châtenay-Malabry.
Spanish cycling authorities have already said they will not recognize the results of the new rounds have testing and have already shelved any possible sanctions against Mayo.