Carlos Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France, and Bert Grabsch, who in 2008 won the World time trial title, will be guests at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan and serve as Ambassadors of the sport. The two now-retired pros were enthusiastic about the race and the land.
Sastre, 39, won the Tour de France in 2008 for Team CSC-Saxo Bank, after having finished third the previous two years. The Spaniard has also been on the podium of both the Giro d’Italia and his homeland Vuelta a Espana. Sastre retired after the 2011 season, having finished in the top ten of the three Grand Tours 15 times in his 14 year career.
“It is impressive how cycling in Azerbaijan is growing so much in a short time and how they are promoting the country with cycling events. In 2012 the under-23 team of my town (Smilekers- FPDVS) rode in the first edition of the Azerbaijan Tour. The team won the second stage of the Tour and we have very nice memories of it, so now having the possibility to come and visit the country and the race and to experience all that the country is doing for sports is beautiful,” Sastre said.
“This year the organization took another step forward with category 2.1, have 25 good teams and offer flat, half mountains and mountains stages. They create a beautiful scenario for each team,” he said in praise of the race.
“The best thing for this country is that they can still grow in many different areas and that they have the possibility to do it – and so they should keep doing it.”
Grabsch, 39, claimed the world time trial championship in Varese, Italy, on a 43.7 km course. He was in the pro ranks from 1997 to 2013, including a number of years at the top level. His palmares include four German national time trial titles, and a time trial stage at the Vuelta a Espana.
This will be his first visit to Azerbaijan, and „I am excited to travel to Azerbaijan and am looking forward to seeing the race and the infrastructure they have installed. I have heard about the wonderful landscape in Azerbaijan, and am curious as to how the race will develop, as I hope for an exciting race with a lot of spectators in this new cycling country, which will be a good base for the race’s further growth.”
Sastre and Grabsch will both participate in a press conference ahead of the race and will do podium presentations.
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