Cervelo TestTeam 2009 Tour de France Update - Rest Day 1
Cervélo TestTeam enjoyed a rest day in Limoges today as the Tour de France took a breather after the first of its three weeks of hard action.
The squad is satisfied with its performance in the first half of the 2009 Tour, which included a stage victory and the green jersey for sprinter ace Thor Hushovd and smart riding by defending Tour champ Carlos Sastre to keep his options open in the overall classification.
“I have to be realistic; I see this Tour as difficult for me to win because the race just doesn’t have the circumstances that a climber like me needs to win,” Sastre said Monday. “It’s not a criticism or a complaint, it’s simply the truth. You have to make decisions based on reality. I am not resigned at all. We came here with two clear objectives: one was to try to win the yellow jersey and the other was to take the green jersey. The first is looking complicated, but the second is better, so one of the two isn’t bad.”
All nine riders remain in the Tour and there haven’t been any major crashes or illnesses to undermine the team’s morale and motivation ahead of the most difficult challenges of the race.
Sastre remains within striking distance of the overall podium, sitting 16th at 2:52 back.
Sastre said a trio of stages across the Pyrenees didn’t offer favorable terrain to attack, but promises to keep fighting until the Tour ends July 26 in Paris. Sastre expects to have his chance in the Alps looming following five transition stages across central France.
“The first week was a lot of wind, two major time trials, Pyrenees that weren’t that decisive. I believe the second week is going to be choking. There are going to be two days without race radio, these the ingredients that are going to make for a truly difficult final week,” Sastre said. “Whoever has the legs in the final week will win.”
Sport director Alex Sans Vega said the coming week of hilly stages will present a chance for the team to consolidate Hushovd’s lead in the race for the green points jersey.
“We will work for Thor to keep the green jersey. The intermediate sprints will be important, so we will be vigilant and have Thor in position to contest them,” he said. “Another question is to see the strength of the sprinters after the first mountain stages. If Mark Cavendish is feeling good, we will see Columbia try to control the stages to set up sprints. If that’s the case, we will ride to support Thor all the way to the line.”
Hushovd was relaxed on the rest day, attending questions from a dozen or so Norwegian journalists who are documenting his every move.
The big sprinter is optimistic he will have more chances to win stages, especially if arch-rival Cavendish is tired following a hard opening week.
“Columbia is maybe not so strong anymore than in the beginning of the Tour. They were working really hard in the first week,” Hushovd said. “So it could be easier for us or the other teams to win. I hope as well that I can defend my green jersey.”
The 96th Tour clicks back into gear Tuesday for the 194.5 km 10th stage from Limoges to Issoudun.
The hilly profile and narrow roads should favor a breakaway pulling clear of the bunch, but the sprinters might want another chance after being sidelined by the steep mountain climbs.
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