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90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003
Pablo Lastras: "I'm equally bad at everything"
By Gabriella Ekström in Saint-Maixent-l'Ecole
When pointing towards the sky after crossing the line in Saint-Maixent-l'Ecole, Pablo Lastras honoured his mother Rosa who died four months ago. "Because of her death, the start of this season was very hard for me. The emotions I felt in the last metres today were unbelievable. Today would have been her birthday, and I dedicate my victory to her. I came to the Tour full of illusions, but the race has been so very long. I know my role and my job is to help my team, and once I have done that, they will give me the possibility to do something for myself. After three weeks of racing, I was very tired but I think all are equally tired, and therefore I knew I had a chance today.
The break of the day built up a twenty minute lead, and when it was clear that they could not be threatened from behind, the attacks started. Thomas Voeckler's first attack with twenty kilometres to go split the 18 rider group in half, and David Cañada's counter attack with a little less than ten to go left only Daniele Nardello, Pablo Lastras and Carlos Da Cruz behind him.
"When I saw David Cañada go, I knew it would be difficult for him," Lastras said after the stage. "There was a strong headwind, and he never got a big gap. I know David well, he's a friend since we were amateurs and I would rather see him win than anyone else in the break, but I had to take into account that he is not on my team. I had my own chance to win and I stayed with Carlos Da Cruz and Daniele Nardello. My team mate Vicente Garcia Acosta was in a break with Nardello when he won the stage to Draugignan in the Tour in 2000. During the stage today, he gave me important advice on how I should ride."
Pablo Lastras average speed of 49.938 km/h today makes his stage the second fastest Tour stage in history, and the speed was one of Lastras' biggest worries during the stage. "I spoke to my team manager early in the break, and I told him that I was so very tired. The day had started so fast, and it took a lot of energy to get the break going, and I ended up with nothing to eat. With 30 kilometres to go, it was a different story. I had eaten and felt a little better, but I was still very tired. I thought that if I have to die for this one I will."
Although not one of the bigger names in the peloton, Lastras started the Tour with a stage win in the Giro and two Vuelta stages already under his belt. After today's win, he can count himself to the lucky riders who have managed to win stages in all three of the Grand Tours.
"They are important wins all of them. Actually, we having a saying in Spain that there are the three big tours, and then an even bigger one, and that is Volta a Portugal, which I have been lucky to win a stage in as well. This win is very important for me, but so was the Giro stage too, because it was my first win in a grand tour, and the Vuelta is always important to a Spanish rider."
When asked to describe his characteristics as a rider, Lastras hesitates before displaying a cheeky smile. "That is difficult! I guess I can say that I'm an all-rounder, because I'm equally bad in all disciplines. I cant climb, I cant descend and I cant sprint, so all-rounder suits me fine. Honestly, I hope the journalists will come up with something nice to say about me."
With two stage wins and the white youth jersey, Lastras hopes that the iBanesto.com team will have few problems with finding a new sponsor for next year. "I hope my win helps. The team is like a family, because we have been together for so long. I hope we will still be able to ride together in the future, although under a different name."
Chico Perez, a journalist at the Tour, suddenly asks Lastras if he used to participate in the children's race that he used to organise near Madrid, and Lastras breaks up in a smile. "Yes, I rode that race five times, and ended up on the podium once. All the young guys there used to ride it, and afterwards we'd walk around and talk about ourselves as if we were really important persons. Then we'd play some soccer!"