Carlos Sastre said missing the 2011 Tour de France is a “blow” but promises to race with his head held high in other events this season.
Sastre’s Geox-TMC team was snubbed Thursday by Tour officials when it did not receive one of four invitations to start the 2011 Tour. The 2008 Tour champion will miss the French tour for the first time since his debut in 2001.
“After 10 years of racing in the French tour, to not be able to race this year is a real blow,” Sastre said in statement released hours after the Tour wild-cards were announced. “It’s the decision by ASO and I respect it.”
It’s a major setback for Sastre, who won the 2008 edition and was signed in large part by Geox-TMC to help give the team a high-profile leader for the grand tours.
Sastre has raced every Tour since 2001, finishing no worse than 21st (in 2005), and finishing six times among the top 10, including his surprise win in 2008.
There was more bad news for Geox-TMC in store Thursday when the squad found out it was not invited to the two major stage races in March, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
Sastre, 35, expressed his confidence that the team will be able to shine in the season’s other grand tours — the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España — but invitations to those races are not expected for several weeks, if not months.
“I have other important races, such as the Giro and Vuelta, and an alternative schedule that allows us to attend and compete, and that’s also important,” Sastre said. “We will fight in all those races as this team continues to progress and show the level it deserves.”