My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Carlos Sastre's poor result came from back injury

Category: Cycling

Hey, it took a while to write the evaluation when there was so much more interesting to do. Like reading the news a hundred times and watch YouTube. Far more interesting than to write what I've thought of the school year.

The former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre had problems during this year's Giro d'Italia because of back problems. The Cervelo TestTeam-rider finished eight overall, 9:39 behind Ivan Basso.

The Spanish rider didn't have a lot of race days in advance of the Giro and I guess he should have had many more. Eight race days are a really small amount and well, most riders wouldn't even think of starting a Grand Tour with so few race days.

Sastre complains that he crashed at some occasions during the first stages and he sustained a back injury. The injury became worse when he crashed again on the stage to Montalcino on the dirt roads.

"I don’t like to make excuses. I crashed and I crashed pretty bad but that's part of the game, it's one of the risks of cycling," Sastre said.

"It wasn’t something I talked about because I didn’t want it to become an excuse. Everyone in the team knew about it but we didn’t talk about it to the press or the public because they can't help me when I'm on the bike. I just needed the help of my teammates, my soigneur and my osteopath."

"It was a tough experience but I did my best and I'm happy with what I achieved. I'm just happy that I was able to finish the Giro d'Italia. If I'd crashed harder, I might not have even made it to the end."

Yes, he claims that there is no subterfuge and I believe him. He is not the kind of man who make up things. Still I feel that something is more wrong than he tells. Why would he otherwise have so few race days? Is he getting old?

Mollema became best Dutch rider

Category: Cycling

I'm off from school today and will only write an evaluation of my year today. I don't exactly know what to write so I may take a few seconds here. I'm still immensely proud of Gustav Erik Larsson's beautiful victory. He really is amazing when it comes to time trials, one of the world's greatest, yet his victory was a surprise for me. I can't really explain why, but no matter what I am proud of him and very happy that he has taken his biggest victory so far.

A few days ago I commented that the Netherlands is no longer the cycling nation they once was. Rabobank's Bauke Mollema finished 12th overall at the Giro d'Italia, and was the country's (and Rabobank's) highest ranked rider. Last year Rabobank's rider Denis Menchov won the race, but he decided not to defend his victory this year.

It was Mollema's first Grand Tour, and he didn't know what to expect. The young rider won the 2007 Tour de l'Avenir (a major stage races for espoirs), but the Giro d'Italia is clearly a bigger race.

"I'm very satisfied", said Mollema. "In every mountain I was in the top 10 or top 15. I feel I'm going to be even better next year."

Rabobank's neo-pro Steven Kruijswijk finished 18th in the general classification, so there was really no poor performance of the young riders. Mollema and Kruijswijk finished third and fourth in the young rider competition behind Richie Porte and Robert Kiserlovski.

Should we trust Ivan Basso today?

Category: Cycling

It is four years since last time. But now it has happened again. Ivan Basso is the winner of the Giro d'Italia. He also won the race in 2006, but was implicated in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation and became suspended. Today Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) was crowned the winner of the year's race and I am still not sure what to think. Can I trust him today?

When I think of it, I believe that Ivan Basso has changed. He seems to have more respect and faith for himself. In addition, he looked happier when standing at the podium. The mouth and eyes tell a lot about people. And he said that he liked this victory better than the one in 2006.

"I think this Giro win is the best one because I fought for the pink jersey right to the end," Basso said.

"I crashed on the stage to Montalcino and then there was the disaster of the stage to L'Aquila, when I lost time. I honestly thought I might not win. Arroyo was very strong and rides for a strong team. It caused us a lot of problems but we fought back with pride and did everything right to win. I have to thank my teammates yet again. Especially Nibali who finished with me on the podium. He'll win the Giro one day."

This summer he will also ride the Tour de France, but this year he is not aiming for a double victory. He has probably realized that it would be too stupid. Last time he tried it he used dope (or at least wished to dope). Foolishly!