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July 18, 2004

Saiz: Bruyneel 'disrespectful'

procycling | Saiz slams Bruyneel and Riis

There have been a few stories about the generational change that's happening in the peloton as a younger generation of riders like Thomas Voeckler, Fabian Cancellara, and Tom Boonen have made their mark on the 2004 Tour.

There's also starting to be a generational change among team directors, as a number of teams are being run by guys who were riding the Tour themselves well into the '90s, like Johan Bruyneel, Bjarne Riis at CSC, Bruno Cenghialta at Alessio-Bianchi, and Erik Breukink at Rabobank.

One of the sport's grand old managers is Manolo Saiz, now of Liberty Seguros, who also managed the ONCE team through its heyday, but who has never won the Tour. Saiz has taken exception to some recent comments by US Postal director Johan Bruyneel and CSC director Bjarne Riis.

Bruyneel, subject of a long profile in Friday's Washington Post, came in for it for suggesting that José Azevedo, formerly with ONCE, is actually an improvement over Roberto Heras, now with Saiz at Liberty Seguros.

“I find it disrespectful to talk about Heras, a rider who helped Armstrong to win three Tours de France, in those terms,” said Saiz, who managed Bruyneel in his riding days at ONCE. “It is also poppycock: Azevedo rides three kilometres a day, he finishes off the job of the other US Postal riders on the climbs. Talk to me about George Hincapie or Viatcheslav Ekimov. That I can take. They ride all day on the flat then lead Lance up the climbs, too. They are real domestiques. Or talk to me about Armstrong: he is someone I have real respect for.”

Riis claimed that his CSC team is one of a very few teams who came to the Tour prepared. They're currently leading the team competition and their Ivan Basso has a stage win and high GC placing.

Liberty Seguros, on the other hand, is 13th in the team competition, with Roberto Heras in 35th their best-placed rider, and without a stage win. Riis, in other words, hit a nerve:

“Of Riis, I would say that it’s easy to talk when things are going well,” Saiz continued. “If Ivan Basso loses 20 minutes tomorrow, then we will see if Riis is still a genius. How long has he been a directeur sportif? If I want advice on managing a team I’m happy to listen to someone like Giancarlo Ferretti, who has been doing the job for 20-odd years. Ferretti knows that miracles don’t happen overnight. All it takes is a fall or an injury to one of your riders to bring you down a few pegs.”

And what of Heras?

“I have no answers,” Saiz admitted. “Roberto doesn’t have any physical problems that we know of. His preparation was almost the same as the one which took Joseba Beloki onto the podium of the Tour in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The only difference was that Roberto had one more week to rest in June. Now it’s my job to keep my team’s morale up until the end of the Tour.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2004 in Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras | Permalink

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» Johan Bruyneel Profiled in the Washington Post, Saiz Takes Issue from Operation Gadget
Kudos to TDFblog.com for covering pretty much everything in the English language press that's worth reading about the Tour de France. The pointed out the article in The Washington Post by Sally Jenkins on Friday that profiled Johan Bruyneel, directeur... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 19, 2004 9:34:21 AM

» Johan Bruyneel Profiled in the Washington Post, Saiz Takes Issue from Operation Gadget
Kudos to TDFblog.com for covering pretty much everything in the English language press that's worth reading about the Tour de France. They pointed out the article in The Washington Post by Sally Jenkins on Friday that profiled Johan Bruyneel, directeur... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 19, 2004 9:42:20 AM

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