CSC manager hopes for fireworks on Hautacam
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis is hoping Spanish team leader Carlos Sastre can light up the Tour de France's 10th stage on Monday.14 July 2008
BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE - CSC team manager Bjarne Riis is hoping Spanish team leader Carlos Sastre can give his fellow yellow jersey hopefuls a scare by lighting up the Tour de France's 10th stage on Monday.
But Riis is keeping quiet on what their tactics might be the day after Riccardo Ricco sprinted away from the bunch on the climb to the Col d'Aspin to claim his second stage win of the race.
The Italian's impressive attack failed to cause panic in a peloton which contained all the race favourites. Ahead of Monday's tougher climbing stage, they simply preferred to keep watch over each other.
Yet Ricco's threat to help teammate Leonardo Piepoli triumph on Monday's first summit finish of the race at Hautacam, via another 'unclassified' ascent over the Col du Tourmalet, could give several teams ideas.
Another major factor is that most will be watching for signs of weakness from Australian Cadel Evans, who will be riding with pains in his thigh, shoulder and elbow following a heavy crash on Sunday.
Riis has yet to see any of his three leaders, Sastre and the Schleck brothers Andy and Frank, really attack the yellow jersey, which is currently being worn by Luxemburger Kim Kirchen.
The Dane might unleash Andy Schleck on a first attack to scare, and ultimately tire out Evans, Kirchen and Spanish contender Alejandro Valverde.
An ideal scenario would then see Sastre emerge to close his 1:34 deficit on Kirchen.
"I hope it will be a stage for him (Sastre). If that is not a stage for him, then I will be worried," said the Dane, who admitted they will have to be vigilant after Ricco closed his overnight deficit of 3:52 to Kirchen to 2:35.
"We have to be vigilant. If Ricco goes, then we will have to go with him."
Ricco appeared unstoppable when, after several attempts by other riders, he left the peloton in his wake on the 12.3km climb to the summit of the Col d'Aspin.
But with a total of six other climbing stages to come, Riis said Sunday's stage was simply an appetiser.
"Ricco was too strong for everybody today. It was still too early to guage the strengths of our rivals," he added, denying that Evans's crash will force several teams to attack the Australian.
"Evans was there, he got through (the stage) okay. Tomorrow, it will be the legs that make the difference. I don't know about other teams, but we wanted to keep everbody for tomorrow."
[AFP / Expatica]