There's something about this middle aged bald guy that is thrilling!
--Mel Brooks about Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm
Behind, Carlos Sastre is back at the team car getting some lube sprayed on his chain.--from www.cyclingnews.com Live Report, Tour de France, Stage 17
What is it about Carlos Sastre that I find absolutely thrilling?
There's something about the little-tugboat-that-could way he rides his rides his bike up mountains, his earnest little proclamations, and his use of Roto rings that I find so thrilling!
Recall last year's Tour, with teammate Frank SSSSSSScccchhhhhhhhhhleghhhghghghck in the yellow jersey but Cadel poised like a falcon--a weepy, bumbling, egocentric falcon with a self-portrait above his mantle--ready to snatch it back. All Cadel had to do was not lose two minutes to any of his rivals on the climb and not get all weepy during TT the following day. He failed on both accounts, proving himself the Jean Van de Velde of cycling.
And Sastre? He won the Tour with all the panache of a John Kerry on his custom Serotta on his way to Hains.
Perhaps Carlos is right in bemoaning the lack of respect shown for the Tour's defending champ. Consider his Wikipedia entry:
Carlos Sastre Candil (born 22 April 1975 in Leganés, Madrid) is a Spanish professional road bicycle racer and champion of the 2008 Tour de France. Sastre [pronounced SASS-tray] rides for UCI Professional Continental team Cervélo TestTeam. Through his consistently improved top 10 results in the Vuelta a España and good showings in the Tour de France, Sastre established himself as a strong and stable climbing specialist, and after working to improve his individual time trial skills, he has become a contender for the top GC spots in the Grand Tours.
"Improved," "strong and stable," and "a contender"--these are not terms used to describe a winner of the Tour de France. C'mon, guys, throw the poor little Spaniard un hueso. In a recent press conference, Carlos complained:
"...the first question I got about this Tour de France was, 'What do you think about Armstrong and Contador?'" he told reporters in Martigny, his brown eyes appearing to blaze a certain anger.
Asked Sastre rhetorically: "Do you think that is respectful? I don't know."
The answer, Carlos, is yes. But really, what do you think? Stop putting on frowny face.
Then there is his humility: "I don't understand anything about cycling. This is my twenty-first Grand Tour, but every year I understand less about cycling."
He doesn't like summer camp, but he's glad to be in a cabin with all his friends: "It's a boring race, but I'm happy because I have all my teammates close to me, and that is more important than what is going on outside."
Most revealing is Carlos' statement about the value of his Tour win:
"I think it's more important [to help people in need] than to win the Tour de France. When I won the Tour de France, it was like… nothing. But when you do something for a person who needs help, they give you a lot of things. You don't need to be a star – you need to be just a person. I feel happier doing something for people who really need something than for people who don't need anything. That is the difference."
Bizarre. Doesn't Carlos know that "helping people" is something people with no talent do? Obviously, poor ignorant Carlos hasn't read Atlas Shrugged.
Then there is his physique. No one would ever want to take or look at a picture of Carlos in this pose:
Perhaps I like Carlos because, at 37 years old, he still resembles the child actor Fred Savage.
His victory salutes are certainly age appropriate. In Carlos' first Tour win, he shunned the pedestrian "rock-a-baby" and pulled a pacifier from his jersey for a demonstrative "winning-this-is-easier-than-sucking-a-rubber-nipple" pose to honor his newborn baby. Suck it!
I love it that Carlos would feel slowed down by an unproperly lubed chain. That in the middle of the queen mountain stage of le Tour, he would bother to drift back to the team car, demand the spray lube on the chain, and then go power his way back to the peleton.