Defending champion Sastre will try to win a second consecutive maillot jaune while Hushovd is taking aim for a second career green points jersey as the 96th Tour clicks into gear with a 15.5km time trial in glamorous Monaco. “I am ready, the team is ready and now we have to go on the road and prove it,” said Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour. “My goal was to arrive at the best possible condition for the Tour. I’m happy with the team I have here.”
While Sastre will step center-stage in the high-altitude climbs in the Alps and Pyr?n?es during the three-week, 3,459.5-kilometer Tour, Norwegian sprinter Hushovd will be bumping shoulders in the high-speed sprints in the flat stages. Hushovd is confident he will have the support he needs to add to his career haul of six stage victories and earn another prestigious green points jersey that he won in 2005. “I feel strong and I am ready. I have a strong team around me and I know my form is good,” Hushovd said. “I know I will have a better chance in the sprints than in the previous years to try to win the green jersey.”
Joining the leaders is a powerful, balanced team that can protect Sastre in the mountains and help set up Hushovd in the dangerous sprints. Lean climbers such as Volodymir Gustov, Jos? Marchante and I?igo Cuesta will be at Sastre’s side on such demanding climbs at Arcalis and Mont Ventoux, while Hushovd will be guided into the high-speed sprints by Heinrich Haussler and Hayden Roulston.
Despite the ambitious goals, Sastre insisted that the team will ride cooperatively in all facets of demanding Tour course. “This is one team, it’s not just one half for me and another half for Thor. We will ride as one,” Sastre said. “We decided we wanted a team like this. We will all help each other to achieve our goals.”
The team’s two-pronged strategy reflects Cerv?lo’s larger vision for the three-week Tour. Team owner Gerard Vroomen said working on product development and bringing fans closer to the top cyclists is just as important as performing at the highest level in cycling’s marquee event.
“For our first Tour, we’re fairly clear about our goals. With Carlos, we have the defending champion and we want to support him to finish as high as possible in the GC,” Vroomen said. “We also have a very strong sprint contingent and we want to mix it up in the sprints. This Tour is already a success for us because we’re here.”
Months of preparation and hard work are completed and Cerv?lo’s riders and staff are keen to let the racing begin. The world’s eyes will turn to Monte Carlo for Saturday’s first stage of the 96th edition of the Tour. Cerv?lo will be the center of attention as team captain Sastre will have the honor of starting last of the 180 riders from 20 teams as the defending champion.