Spaniard Carlos Sastre refused to give up fighting for the Giro d'Italia overall classification. The Spaniard won two stages last year and finished third overall, though this year is losing ground when the roads turn upwards.
Despite sitting four minutes and 21 seconds behind leader David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Cervélo TestTeam's Sastre believes he is still in reach of the overall title. Let's not forget, he captured his 2008 Tour de France win on the race's penultimate day.
"A strong man should win," said Sastre, "but maybe a smart man can win."
Today, the second of two rest days, Sastre trained on the Plan de Corones climb that he will face tomorrow and then headed back to the team's hotel in Gais to speak with the press. He had time to look over the numbers: a deficit of four minutes and 21 seconds to Arroyo and 48 seconds to the race's strong man, Ivan Basso.
"I had really bad luck in the first week," continued Sastre. "The crashes came when I was in good position, not as if I was riding at the back."
He gained the most time on his rivals by forming part of the mega-escape in stage 10 to L'Aquila Wednesday, but has lost time consistently on the other stages. The losses are due to crashes, but also due to his inability to follow his rivals on the climbs.
Yesterday, he slid back nearly three minutes in the overall classification after he lost contact on the climb up Monte Zoncolan.
Sastre's key time losses/gains
stage 2: -37secs
stage 3: -46secs
stage 7: -5-20
stage 8: -1-04
stage 9: -1-49
stage 10: +12-37"
stage 14: -2-25
stage 15: -2-44
Sastre is right, though, a smart man can win this Giro d'Italia. He has the most experience of his rivals and faces six more stages to make up time.
As he said, "Everything is possible in this Giro. It's a three-week race and I am strongest in the last week - I am an endurance man."
Endurance will be needed since the riders have already covered 2,763 kilometres and still face four serious mountain stages: Tomorrow's mountain time trial to Plan de Corones, Peio Terme on Wednesday, Mortirolo/Aprica on Friday and the Passo di Gavia on Saturday.
"The climbs of the final week are better for me. These climbs in the dolomites were explosive - the ones ahead are longer, steadier - it gives me motivation."
The Giro d'Italia ends on Sunday with a time trial in Verona.
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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