June 29, 2006

Basso, Ullrich, Mancebo among riders in Puerto report

Eurosport | Basso, Ullrich fingered in Spain

Spanish radio network Cadena Ser reports that both Tour de France favorites are named in the Operación Puerto evidence files, unsealed by a Spanish judge today.

Phonak riders José Enrique Gutierrez and Santiago Botero, withheld by the team from competition until the case was cleared up, and former Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton are also listed.

Roberto Heras, suspended from Liberty Seguros (now Astaná-Würth), and AG2R's Francisco Mancebo, have also been named, with about 50 other athletes (not all cyclists) likely to follow as the press gets the evidence files.

Tour organizers had pressed for the names of implicated riders to be released. Now they may be wishing they hadn't.

The story at El Pais (in Spanish) doesn't mention Basso, but adds T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla, suspended Phonak rider Santago Perez, Astaná-Würth's Joseba Beloki, Angel Edo and Quiquie Gutierrez (?).

De Telegraaf claims that Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha and Denis Menchov (in Dutch) are also named in the 500 page report.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2006 in Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2006

Manolo Saiz, Liberty Seguros physician arrested, suspected of doping

eitb24.com | Liberty Seguros cycling team director and physician arrested

There's a report out of Spain that Liberty Seguros DS Manolo Saiz was arrested today in Madrid, along with team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, in connection to a doping case.

At least three others have reportedly been detained, and the investigation apparently centers on blood boosting, the process of extracting blood for later transfusion to riders, boosting their red cell count to as near the 50 percent UCI hematocrit limit as possible. Saiz formerly led Team ONCE, the Spanish powerhouse.

Jesus Manzano, formerly of Kelme, in 2004 told Spanish daily AS that blood boosting was widespread, and often involved transfusing one rider's blood into another rider. Phonak's Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez have both since been suspended for having traces of another person's blood in samples they provided.

Liberty Seguros lost Roberto Heras to a positive EPO test during last year's Vuelta, and are expected to be led at this year's Tour by Alexandre Vinokourov. No riders have yet been named in the investigation.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 23, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2006

Heras suspended for 2 years

ESPN.com | Ex-Armstrong teammate Heras banned for EPO

Spain's Roberto Heras has been banned for two years for EPO.

Heras, who tested positive while riding for a record fourth Vuelta a España win last year, is considering whether to appeal to Spain's cycling federation or directly to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Said Jose Maria Buxeda, Heras' lawyer:

"We need to study the decision carefully to see where we will take the appeal," Buxeda was quoted as saying by Spanish daily El Pais (link in Spanish). "If we take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport it will take at least five months for a resolution."

The finding hands the 2005 Vuelta title to Denis Menchov of Rabobank, who finished 2nd overall.

Heras, of course, insists he is innocent.

"I never doped myself," he said. "I didn't do it during the Vuelta nor at any other time. I've always won cleanly. I can't allow all my sacrifices to be trampled due to an error. I have to take the result on board, but I question it."


VeloNews.com | Heras suspended and stripped of Vuelta title

Posted by Frank Steele on February 9, 2006 in Denis Menchov, Doping, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

Vinokourov to Liberty Seguros

BBC SPORT | Vinokourov joins Liberty Seguros

Alexandre Vinokourov, whose aggressive riding animated the 2005 Tour, will join Manolo Saiz' Liberty Seguros squad.

The team's previous Tour leader, Roberto Heras, had a disappointing Tour in 45th, and Saiz said publicly during the Tour that Heras would ride the Giro and not lead the team's Tour squad next season.

Vinokourov will bring along a fellow Kazakh, Sergey Yakovlev, from T-Mobile.

Said Vino:

"They have the best riders in the mountains and are among the best in the team time trials. It was almost a natural choice," he said of Liberty Seguros.

"We have discussed my programme for 2006 - I've had the guarantee I will be able to fully focus on the Tour de France."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (11)

July 16, 2005

Stage 14 underway

On the Port de Pailhères, T-Mobile is ready to rumble. They go to the front, and launch an attack with more than 10 k left in the HC climb. Guerini pushed the pace, then Vinokourov attacked! Armstrong is isolated against Vinokourov, Guerini, and Ullrich. After the initial gap, some riders are catching up to the leaders' group. Basso, Rasmussen, Mancebo, Landis, Leipheimer are there. Popovych is trying to get back to the group, struggling a few seconds back. There goes Vinokourov again. Basso matches him, and Christophe Moreau. Basso has ridden past Vino! Botero, Mayo, Heras dropped in the first big attack. Ullrich, Basso, Vinokourov are riding together, with Armstrong back a few seconds, with Mancebo and Rasmussen. Mancebo and Armstrong attack from that group, and Armstrong drops him, bridging to Ullrich and Basso. Rasmussen and Mancebo are trying to climb back onto Armstrong/Ullrich/Basso. Heads of state group: Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Landis, Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, and Andrey Kaschechkin (bless you) who looks likely to take the white jersey tonight. Still up the road are Stefano Garzelli and Georg Totschnig, about 5 minutes ahead, and a few other remnants of an early breakaway. Now another selection: Only Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, and Landis are still together. Evans, Leipheimer, and Kaschechkin are off the back, with Mancebo, Rasmussen, and Leonardo Piepoli about 1 minute behind the Armstrong group. Vinokourov is 18 seconds behind them: He's not freewheeling to the finish; he's giving it his all to try to get back among the leaders. Now seven leaders: Leipheimer from behind and Daniele Nardello and Alexander Moos, formerly of the breakaway, join Armstrong, Basso, Landis, and Ullrich. That means Landis (with Moos) and Ullrich (with Nardello) have teammates in the bunch. If Totschnig is caught, Leipheimer will as well. Back to the five leaders: Armstrong, Basso, Landis, Leipheimer, and Ullrich. They're nearing the top of the Port de Pailhères. Totschnig is going to be first over the top, but the leaders won't be far behind. It's about a 4 minute gap, with 29 kilometers for the leader to ride. On the descent, Rasmussen's group (with Klöden, Evans, Mancebo and Zubeldia) is making up time, now about 20 seconds behind Armstrong; Vinokourov is another 25 seconds behind that. Garzelli is 2:45 ahead of Armstrong's group, and Totschnig is 1:10 ahead of that. It's all back together: Vinokourov is reintegrating; already there is Rasmussen's group. That puts 3 T-Mobiles and 2 Euskaltel-Euskadis in front. Totschnig is on the day's final climb, so I'm going to start a new "final climb" post. If you've been reloading this page, you can find it on the home page.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Stage 11 underway

There have been a couple of opportunistic breakaways this morning, with the biggest being an attack from Alexandre Vinokourov, who is now riding with Santiago Botero and Oscar Pereiro of Phonak, and Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. Initially, their group also included Francisco Mancebo, Roberto Heras, Pietro Caucchioli, and Chris Horner, but those four were dropped on the Madeleine.

Pereiro had a dramatic off-road experience going off the side of the road on the descent, and down a small hill. He was able to come back up, get on board, and recapture the break.

Thor Hushovd (!) and Samuel Dumoulin also spent some time in front. Presumably, Hushovd had an eye toward the first intermediate sprint of the day, but he's been picked up by the main field.

Green jersey Tom Boonen crashed again, around 10 kilometers into the stage. The race doctor spent time working on his knee, and Guido Trenti spent quite a while pacing Boonen back to the field.

On the Col de la Madeleine, Botero took max mountain points, followed by Vinokourov, Pereiro, Martinez, and then Christophe Moreau and Michael Rasmussen in the peloton.

Discovery shucked a lot of riders on the day's first climb, but there are still 6 or 7 Discos driving the field. There may be 40 riders in the Armstrong group, and they're letting Botero and Vinokourov's group sit around 1:30 up the road. They must be able to see them on some of these roads.

Vinokourov picks up a 6 second time bonus at the sprint line; his group is closing on a 2 minute gap to the peloton. They're also closing on the Col du Telegraphe -- time to climb.

Egoi Martinez is off the lead group early on the Telegraphe, and now so is Botero. Botero battles back up to Vino and Pereiro!

The trio is 1:58 in front of Armstrong's group, which includes Rubiera, Savoldelli, Popovych, Hincapie, and Beltran, and Azevedo.

Jean-Patrick Nazon and Kim Kirchen have both abandoned today. On the Galibier, Quick Step's Stefano Zanini joins them.

As the lead three hit the summit of the Telegraphe, their gap has stretched to almost 3 minutes. Ullrich, Valverde, Basso, Klöden, Landis, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Moreau, and Chris Horner are all still in the 40-strong Armstrong group. Botero again gets max mountain points, then Vinokourov, then Pereiro.

On the Galibier, Vinokourov and Botero have dropped Pereiro; looks like he's toasted. Mayo keeps falling off the Armstrong group. The gap reached 3:30, but it's coming down now, at about 3:00.

Beltran has finally fallen off the lead group.

Vinokourov has dropped Botero.

Down to 26 riders in the Armstrong group. Vinokourov is 3:15 up on Armstrong with 6 kilometers to the top. I don't think Armstrong can count on catching Vinokourov on the descent.

Rubiera is popped. Armstrong catches Pereiro; Horner is off the back; Armstrong has Azevedo, Hincapie, Popovych and Savoldelli. The gap is 3:06.

Armstrong's group is down below 20 with 4 supporting Discos. Guerini is off the back with Klöden and Michael Rogers. The gap has dropped to 2:47.

Vinokourov is going to take the Henri Desgrange prize for the first man to the Tour's highest point. Less than 1 kilometer to the top for Vino.

Armstrong has lost another Disco. Botero continues to struggle in between Vinokourov and the chasers. He may catch Vinokourov on the descent.

Vino is first over, Botero is :38 seconds back. Rasmussen has launched an attack and has a good gap on Armstrong. Rasmussen showed us his descending skills the other day. It's going to be an interesting run-in to Briançon.

I'm starting a new post for the last 40 k; if you've been reloading this page, check the home page for the new post.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Ullrich, Vino, Basso: Rider reactions on Stage 10

From the T-Mobile team website:

A battling Jan Ullrich came in with Andreas Klöden 2:15 minutes behind and appeared to be suffering from more than just the effects of the climb. Ullrich: "I felt pains in my back while breathing. That was a little handicap. Big thanks to Klödi who waited for me. The Tour is still long." Alexander Vinokourov came in 5:18 minutes behind the leaders in a disappointing performance: "It wasn´t a good day for me. I found it difficult to find my rhythm."

Related: Jan's Diary

From Yahoo! Sport:

Basso said that he was content to have lost not too much time on the Texan.

"I wasn't at my best but when I realised I couldn't go the same pace I just decided to drop back and go at my own.

"Armstrong's performance doesn't surprise me as he is really strong."

Vinokourov all but admitted that there was no stopping Armstrong.

"He can take you out anytime he wants," said the downcast Kazakh.

From CyclingNews.com:


"I went very badly the whole day; I believe that it has been a horrible stage for the whole team and also for me, especially in the last climb. I was expecting more, but I admit that I have gone too long without taking part in an important race and [today] I felt it. There is still a lot of radcleft and I expect to be able to do better than today."


"did not feel good from the beginning of the day and at the end I was very bad. ... I do not [know] what has happened to me, because till now I felt very good. Because of that I hope that I was just having a bad day, because I felt very good [before]. Simply, my legs were not working today. I am now very far down in the general classification, but still hope to see if I can recover the form that I had before. I have suffered a very hard blow, but I will try to recover and tomorrow we will see if it was only a bad day."

More links welcome in the comments, if you've seen other rider reactions.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0)

GC update

Your current GC:
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 37:11:04
2) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at :38
3) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 2:40
4) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 2:42
5) Alejandro Valverde (Spain) Illes Balears, at 3:16
6) Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner at 3:58
7) Francisco Mancebo (Spain) Illes Balears at 4:00
8) Jan Ullrich (Germany) T-Mobile at 4:02
9) Andreas Klöden (Germany) T-Mobile at 4:16
10) Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak at 4:16

Looking farther back:

11) Botero, at 5:20
16) Vinokourov, 6:32
17) Julich, 6:32
21) Beloki at 8:31
23) Karpets at 9:03
24) Chris Horner, at 9:05
25) Michael Rogers, at 9:10
30) Georg Totschnig, at 11:43
36) Roberto Heras, at 12:59
45) Denis Menchov, at 16:16
50) Brad McGee, at 18:28
66) Iban Mayo, at 27:31

Basso, Leipheimer, Valverde, and Rasmussen all sit closer to the race lead than they did yesterday. They had the best days for riders not born in Texas. Unfortunately for them, they're not chasing down Jens Voigt from here on out.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Francisco Mancebo, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stage 10 underway

First rider to drop out on the day was Lampre's Gerrit Glomser; he's the 16th rider out, leaving 173 in the race.

An opportunistic break was allowed to get 13:30 out in front; the biggest name and highest placed rider to make that break is Laurent Brochard, the former world champion, sitting 49th, 7:58 back this morning. Brochard, of course, has the peloton's worst mullet.

So much for "making CSC control the pace": Discovery is still doing most of the work on Cormet de Roselend. Discovery looks to be performing to expectations: Their pace is sending more than just pack fodder off the back: Iban Mayo has fallen off, and yellow jersey Jens Voigt is at the back of the lead group. Beltran is doing the pacemaking, and even Padrnos is still in the lead group, shadowing Voigt.

Brochard's group is 4:45 up the road from Armstrong, Ullirch, Leipheimer, Landis, Pereiro, Julich, Moreau, Vinokourov, and others. Voigt has yo-yoed off the back of the lead group and rejoined.

Over the top of the Col de Roselend, Pereiro attacks, and is joined by Jorg Jaksche of Liberty Seguros. The Brochard-to-big guns gap is 3:43 at the summit.

Popovych crashed on the descent, apparently with a team car, but got a new bike, and is chasing back onto Armstrong's group. Looks like he hit CSC's team car, and may have tangled and lost with the front fender of one of Discovery's Subarus.

The peloton has grown as riders dropped on the first climb chase back on. Discovery is still doing all the pacemaking.

Jaksche and Pereiro have caught the break, which is now composed of Brochard (Bouyges), Jaksche (Liberty), Pereiro (Phonak), Luis Sanchez (Liberty), Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank). Pereiro started 5:12 behind Voigt this morning.

Discovery has brought back everyone from the early break except Jaksche, Pereiro and Brochard, and it won't be long on those three.

Roberto Heras and Denis Menchov are toasted and off the back. Mayo reportedly likewise, Beloki is off the back. CSC finally is making a move, sending Sastre off the front. Discovery lets him dangle off the front, but he doesn't have the legs to go.

Guerini off the back, Moreau off the back, Vladimir Karpets off the back. Horner off the back. Julich off the back. Botero off the back. Five Discovery riders up front. Only about 20 riders in total still in contention. Sastre falling off this group, paying for his attempted break.

Leipheimer, Vino, Landis, Ullrich, Basso all are still in Armstrong's group. Valverde is also there. Discovery has started to pay for the pace; Popovych is the only Discovery left. Vinokourov is back at the back of the group of 16 riders; Mancebo is there. Vinokourov is dropped! T-Mobile has Klöden and Ullrich up front.

Popovych is popped, and IT'S ON! Armstrong blows the group of 14 into a group of 5 or so: Armstrong, Basso, Valverde, Rasmussen, and Mancebo! Goodbye, Klöden, Ullrich, Leipheimer, Julich, and Landis. They've still got 10 kilometers to ride!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Francisco Mancebo, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Laurent Brochard, Michael Rasmussen, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Vladimir Karpets, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Rest day checkup

Daily Peloton | Jambon Report Rest Day 1

Over at dailypeloton.com, Locutus offers his update on the race so far: Who's outperforming expectations, and who's underperforming.

The big thing to remember is how many people with big expectations haven't shown anything this year: Just among the Americans, there are Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, and Chris Horner, but also Heras and Beloki, Santiago Botero, Vinokourov, Ullrich, Iban Mayo and especially Ivan Basso. Most of these guys have picked out a stage they think plays to their strength in the mountains.

For at least a few of them, I think it's going to be tomorrow. Vinokourov and Armstrong have a history of making their bones on the mountaintop finishes. Given all the talk about Discovery's strength or weakness as a team, they're going to want to stamp their name all over a mountain stage, and soon.


procycling.com | Bruyneel on voyage of Discovery

So would tomorrow’s stage, which at first glance looks tailor-made for an Armstrong attack, see more of the champion’s trademark summit spectaculars[?] “Well, I hope it’s the same this time,” said Bruyneel. “This is the first big mountain stage so in theory there will be attacks. A lot of teams are ready. But we will see.

“Maybe it’s going to come down to the final time trial,” he said. “There’s nothing that can tell me today that Lance will definitely be in yellow tomorrow.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Chris Horner, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

CyclingNews TTT photo gallery

cyclingnews.com | Tour de France Stage 4 Team Time Trial

Disco butt check Heras was strong Popo's 1st jersey; probably not last
Disco butt-check, Heras resurgent and Popo's first jersey: cyclingnews.com


Velogal.smugmug.com | Velogal's Tour de France 2005 Stage 4

Sammarye “Velogal” Lewis has started posting some galleries at smugmug.com: You can order (very reasonably priced) prints of any of her shots, mostly off-the-bike shots. Today, she caught Robbie McEwen, apparently still arguing over his relegation yesterday in Stage 3.

Lewis is a co-author of Tour de France for Dummies.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2005 in 2005 Tour photo galleries, Roberto Heras, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Daily Peloton previews GC candidates

Daily Peloton | Tour de France: Jambon Preview

One of the most entertaining web Tour de France reports is The Daily Peloton's Jambon Report, where they award their Golden Hams and Ham-gazers to the riders who ruled and drooled, respectively, during the day's stage.

Today, Locutus has their GC preview up. Some highlights: he thinks Chris Horner "is the team leader, and the team just doesn't know it yet", expects Brad McGee to take the prologue-that's-not-really-a-prologue on Saturday, and thinks Ullrich will lose serious time on the first major mountain stage, as he does every year.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bruyneel: Basso, Vinokourov, Ullrich Armstrong's only rivals

BBC SPORT | Armstrong 'has only three rivals'

Discovery DS Johann Bruyneel says there are just 3 riders he thinks of as “real challengers” for this year's Tour title:

Ivan Basso:

"He was the only one to stay with Lance in the mountains [in 2004]," Bruyneel said.

"Will he be able to maintain his condition for three weeks on the Tour? That's the question mark. But it's possible."

Alexandre Vinokourov:

"Vinokourov takes advantage of every opportunity," said Bruyneel.

"I think he's become more resistant over the years, and stronger in the mountains."

Jan Ullrich:

"Vinokourov takes advantage of every opportunity," said Bruyneel.

"I think he's become more resistant over the years, and stronger in the mountains."

Bruyneel downplayed Liberty Seguros' Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki as GC threats.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beloki: "What I want out of this Tour is to feel good again"

SLAM! Sports | Spain's Joseba Beloki eager to make his Tour de France comeback

One of the wildcards in this year's Tour is Joseba Beloki, 2nd in the 2002 Tour and 3rd in 2000 and 2001 before the crash (and the writer's guild says I have to call it "horrific") that took him out of the 2003 Tour on Stage 9.

Beloki did exactly nothing during 2004. He rode for Brioches La Boulangère, and just didn't seem to fit. He also complained that team doctors wouldn't let him take his asthma medication, Pulmicort, even though Beloki said he had used it since childhood.

This year, he's reunited with Manolo Saiz, the director he raced for at ONCE, at Liberty Seguros, and says he expects to ride in support of Roberto Heras:

"I have an important role to play. I think that Heras is very strong on the mountains, and I will try to be as close to him as possible," Beloki said. "If possible, I'll try to create a surprise and get as far ahead as possible, which would be good for everyone."

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2005 in Joseba Beloki, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Gerolsteiner names Tour 9, CSC and Liberty Seguros close in

procycling.com | Shorts:

Levi Leipheimer will lead
Gerolsteiner's Tour squad.
  Photo by Frank Steele.

Gerolsteiner has finalized its Tour de France squad:

Levi Leipheimer
Georg Totschnig
Michael Rich
Sebastian Lang
Fabian Wegmann
Robert Förster
Ronny Scholz
Beat Zberg
Peter Wrolich

CSC's near-final squad:

Ivan Basso
Kurt-Asle Arvesen
Bobby Julich
Giovanni Lombardi
Carlos Sastre
Nicki Sorensen
Jens Voigt
David Zabriskie
Jakob Piil or Luke Roberts

Two Americans, with Christian Vande Velde home recuperating and looking toward the Vuelta in September.

Liberty Seguros is down to 11 Tour candidates:

René Andrle
Joseba Beloki
Alberto Contador
Allan Davis
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano
Roberto Heras
Jörg Jaksche
Luis Leon Sanchez
Marcos Serrano
Angel Vicioso
Jan Hruska

Cycling4All.com probably maintains the most complete provisional Tour start list.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 20, 2005 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Wegmann, Georg Totschnig, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

Dauphiné Stage 4 underway

Eurosport | Dauphine Libere

Eurosport is the only one of the usual bunch doing live updates. Below is, well, commentary on their commentary.

The strong men are reeling in an early break that stayed away well onto Mont Ventoux, the legendary climb that finishes today's stage. In the chase, a few familiar names, including former US Postal lieutenant Roberto Heras and 2004 Tour de France runner-up Andreas Klöden, have fallen off the select group.

Jorg Jaksche of Liberty Seguros and Davitamon-Lotto's Wim Van Huffel are the two surviving breakaway riders, but the leaders, including Levi Leipheimer and David Moncoutie, are closing fast.

Lance Armstrong has been dropped and recovered the select group -- he looks to be having difficulty holding Leipheimer's pace. Floyd Landis is still in the leader's group, as well.

With about 5kms to ride, Saunier-Duval's José Gomez-Marchante attacks from the select group, taking T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov and overall leader Levi Leipheimer with him. No word on Jaksche, but Van Huffel is getting rolled up by these three. Armstrong, Landis, Moncoutie, Kashechkin (bless you), are falling off the lead.

Now Vinokourov and Gomez-Marchante have dropped Leipheimer. They've caught Van Huffel to take the stage lead, and Leipheimer is falling back into the Armstrong group, maybe 30 seconds back.

With 2 kms to go, it's going to be Vinokourov or Gomez-Marchante for the stage win (and I'm betting on the Kazakh...).

With 1 km to go, Armstrong, Leipheimer, Landis, and Kaschechkin have pulled back some time, trailing by 17 seconds.

With about .5 k, it's go go Vino, and Vinokourov is riding away from his break companion Gomez-Marchante.

Vinokourov takes the stage! It's all down to the time gaps now.

At the finish, Leipheimer holds his leader's jersey!

Posted by Frank Steele on June 9, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2005, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2004

Beloki back with Saiz at Liberty Seguros

BBC SPORT | Beloki signs for Liberty Seguros

Spain's Joseba Beloki is going home, to the Liberty Seguros team managed by Manolo Saiz.

Beloki finished on the podium at the Tour de France in 2000 and 2002, second in 2002, while riding for Saiz at ONCE. In 2003, Beloki broke several bones in a crash during Stage 9 of the Tour, and hasn't returned to form since.

"My aim is to be the rider that I once was during the Tour," he told Spanish sports daily Marca.

"After many days of uncertainty and anxiety about my future, at last I'll be able to sleep well."

One effect of the new ProTour is that it's less of an issue that Liberty Seguros already has a leader in Roberto Heras, because the team will have to contest more races to be competitive in the new series.

Posted by Frank Steele on December 1, 2004 in Joseba Beloki, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Heras extends lead at Vuelta

Eurosport.com | Heras extends overall lead
Colombian Felix Cardenas stomped to a bold mountain-summit win in Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana Wednesday, as Liberty Seguros rider Roberto Heras, third on the stage, pulled further into the overall lead. Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) cracked off the back, finishing the stage 3 min 11 sec adrift."
Heras leads Phonak's Santiago Perez by 1:13, while Valverde fell from 2nd to 3rd, now just 1 second ahead of Illes Balears rider Francisco Mancebo, who was 4th on the day. The stage win by Cardenas suggests he'll take the Vuelta's overall climbing jersey into the Madrid finish on Sunday.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 22, 2004 in Alejandro Valverde, Francisco Mancebo, Roberto Heras | Permalink

July 22, 2004

Heras drops out before Stage 17

BBC Sport | Heras quits Tour

Liberty Seguros leader Roberto Heras, who many saw as a race favorite with the preponderance of climbs in the last week of the Tour, didn't take the sign-in this morning.

"We haven't been able to get him back to full fitness," said team chief Manolo Saiz before the stage start.

"We've had to take a decision that isn't to our liking, but we're professionals and life must go on."

Alessandro Bertolini of Alessio-Bianchi also didn't take the sign-in, and Laurent Lefevre of Brioches La Boulangere signed in but didn't start the race.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2004 in Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2004

Armstrong takes Stage 13; Voeckler fights to keep yellow

Lance Armstrong was clearly the strongest man in the race today, as he powered through one of the Tour's hardest stages and took the win. It's Armstrong's 19th career stage win.

Thomas Voeckler scrapped the entire day to hold the yellow jersey by just a few seconds at the top, finishing in the Top 15 for the stage. What an amazing ride...

Looks like the prognosticators were right about this being a 2-man race, but they had the wrong 2nd man: Ivan Basso again rode to the top of the mountain right alongside the 5-time winner.

Iban Mayo came in 115th at 37:40. His race for the GC is completely over. We'll see if he can recover enough to compete for a mountain stage.

Stage 13 standings:
1) Armstrong
2) Basso (CSC), same time
3) Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 1:05
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at 1:27
5) Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:27
6) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 2:42
7) Azevedo (US Postal) at 2:50
8) Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 2:51
9) Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 2:51
10) Simoni at (Saeco) at 3:43
11) Pereiro at (Phonak) at 4:29
12) Goubert at (AG2R) at 4:29
19) Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 6:39
24) Brochard (AG2R) at 8:21
49) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 21:35

The overall after Stage 13:
1) Voeckler
2) Armstrong at :22
3) Basso at 1:39
4) Klöden at 3:18
5) Mancebo at 3:28
6) Totschnig at 6:08
7) Azevedo at 6:43
8) Ullrich 7:01
9) Caucchioli 7:59
10) Casar 8:29
11) Simoni
12) Sastre
13) Pereiro
14) Leipheimer

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stage 13 underway

After today's abandons, there are only 4 complete teams left in this Tour de France:

US Postal
Team CSC
Quick Step-Davitamon

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann has also abandoned today.

Leading the race over the first 4 climbs has been a break of 3, including Brioches la Boulangere's Sylvain Chavanel, Jens Voigt from Team CSC, and Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank. They've been up by about 5 minutes, but now Chavanel has been caught by Armstrong's group, and the gap to Voigt and Rasmussen has fallen under 2 minutes.

Iban Mayo is at least 10 minutes back on the stage, and clearly suffering on the Pyrenean climbs where he has made his reputation. He actually got off the bike (shades of Simoni), but was convinced to get back on, and continues. For now.

Thomas Voeckler continues to ride above his head in an incredible show of courage, and of the power the yellow jersey sometimes has to elevate a rider. He's again yo-yoed off the lead group on the climbs, but fought back, and is riding with Armstrong. He's reportedly had stomach problems, as well.

Jan Ullrich is still riding with Armstrong in the main field, but Heras is falling away from the leaders. He crashed earlier in the stage.

The elite group, once down under 20, has grown, as the riders get ready to start up Plateau de Beille, the first beyond-category climb of the race.

Richard Virenque's polka-dotted jersey has come under attack by Chavanel and Rasmussen, and Virenque has had to settle for 4th-place points over 5 climbs. Rasmussen now sits 2nd in the competition.

Onto the Plateau de Beille, 2 Posties immediately fell off the pace, Landis and Hincapie. Armstrong still has Rubiera and Azevedo, and Voeckler has finally fallen off the elite group.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Roberto Heras, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 07, 2004

US Postal takes team time trial; Armstrong in yellow

US Postal took the team time trial. Armstrong is in yellow, and the real leaders will start to emerge on GC.

Phonak finished 2nd on the day, 67 seconds back, but that will be capped at 20 seconds.

Illes Balears-Banesto, at 1:15, are capped at 30 seconds, and so on.

Top 10:
1) US Postal                    1.12.03
2) Phonak                       at 1:07 adjusted - :20
3) Illes Balears                at 1:15 adj - :30
4) T-Mobile                      at 1:19 adj - :40
5) CSC                            at 1:46 adj - :50
6) Rabobank                    at 1:53 adj - 1:00
7) Liberty Seguros            at 2:25 adj - 1:10
8) Euskaltel - Euskadi        at 2:35 adj - 1:20
9) Saeco                         at 2:37 adj - 1:30
10) Alessio - Bianchi            at 2:57 adj - 1:40

Early reports are that this puts US Postal in the Top 5 on the general classification (GC), much as last year:

1. Lance Armstrong (USP)
2. George Hincapie (USP) at 10"
3. Floyd Landis (USP) at 16"
4. Jose Azevedo (USP) at 22"
5. Jose Luis Rubiera (USP) at 24"
6. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (PHO) at 27"
7. Viatcheslav Ekimov (USP) at 30"
8. Tyler Hamilton (PHO) at 36"
9. Santos Gonzalez (PHO) at 37"
10. Bert Grabsch (PHO) at 41"

Looking at the team leaders, and anyone else I'm keeping an eye on, it's:

1) Armstrong (USPS)
2) Hamilton (Phonak) at 36"
3) Jens Voigt (CSC) at 43"
4) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 55"
5) Bobby Julich (CSC) at 1:00
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:01
7) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 1:08
8) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 1:17
9) Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) at 1:29
10) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 1:45
11) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 2:02
12) Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) at 2:25
13) Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) at 2:29
14) Laurent Brochard (AG2R) at 2:30
15) Richard Virenque (Quick Step) at 2:39
16) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) at 2:45

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) at 3:22
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:27
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:33
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 5:58
Michael Rogers (Quick Step) at 6:16
Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) at 9:09 (and the roads haven't turned up yet!)
Benjamin Noval (US Postal) at 22:37
Bradley McGee (Fdjeux.com) at 22:49

And our new lanterne rouge:
Davide Bramati (Quick Step) at 27:51

Bramati and a few others were dropped by their teams during the TTT, and had to straggle in alone (or in one pair's case, with a teammate). Eddy Seigneur of RAGT was also dropped, but couldn't finish within the time limit, and was eliminated.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Christophe Moreau, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Magnus Backstedt, Robbie McEwen, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 03, 2004

Cancellara takes prologue; Armstrong 2nd

Tour rookie Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland took the first Tour de France stage he ever suited up for, beating Lance Armstrong through the 6.1-km prologue by 1.5 seconds.

Cancellara, 23, takes the 1st yellow jersey of the 2004 Tour for Alessandro Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team. Since Cancellara earned both yellow and green jerseys with his ride, Armstrong will start in the unfamiliar green jersey tomorrow.

Top 10:

  1. Cancellara      6:50.94
  2. Armstrong     6:52.58
  3. Jose Ivan Gutierrez     6:58.41
  4. Bradley McGee     6:59.90
  5. Thor Hushovd     7:00.98
  6. Oscar Pereiro     7:01.39
  7. Jens Voigt     7:01.42
  8. Christophe Moreau     7:02.45
  9. Bobby Julich     7:02.84
  10. George Hincapie     7:02.89

Levi Leipheimer was 13th, Jan Ullrich was 16th, Floyd Landis 17th, Tyler Hamilton 18th, Iban Mayo 26th.

In the GC, Armstrong will start with about 15 seconds in hand on Jan Ullrich and 18 seconds on Iban Mayo.

Look for Thor Hushovd to wear yellow sometime this week based on his high placing and some time bonuses.

Also, it's hard to take Roberto Heras too seriously on GC: He finished 104th, losing about 35 seconds to Armstrong over a 6.1-km course. In the 60-km ITT of Stage 19, that will be several minutes. He told BBC he believes he can take the yellow jersey in the Pyrenees, but even he has some doubts about holding it into Paris.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 3, 2004 in Fabian Cancellara, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Pereiro, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2004

Saiz: 'Selfish' Armstrong has 80 percent chance in Tour

VeloNews | Saiz doesn't wish sixth Tour for 'selfish' Armstrong

Manolo Saiz is the director of Liberty Seguros, and for years directed the powerhouse ONCE team that included at times Alex Zulle, Joseba Beloki, Laurent Jalabert, and Abraham Olano. This year, he'll try to put Roberto Heras on the podium's top spot, but he gives Armstrong an 80 percent chance of taking his sixth consecutive Tour.

That doesn't mean he's happy about it, however. Saiz is typical of many around the sport who think a "true champion" is one who beats all comers all year round. Their archetype is Eddy Merckx, the Belgian who did just that, but still won 5 Tours.

"As usual, [Armstrong] will pack a season's worth of racing into 23 days.

"Listen, I've got heaps of respect for Armstrong on a professional level. He's an authentic champion, and a great one at that. But he's always had a selfish approach to cycling. He's taken a lot from the sport, but he hasn't given much back in return."

So who's the best Tour rider ever?

"There's no comparison," he said, using Merckx as an example. "Merckx gave everything he had to the sport. The whole season. That's what separates the European idea of cycling from the American idea. It's not a judgment, just an opinion. But for all those reasons, that's why I hope he doesn't become the first rider to win the Tour six times."

And what about Roberto Heras, Armstrong's teammate in last year's Tour, now leading the Liberty Seguros team Saiz manages?

"[N]ow he's going to have to prove he's worthy of being the team leader, that he can attack and take the race by the scruff of the neck. I believe he has the ability, and I can see that he is concentrated and motivated. He has a solid team around him. It should be a great challenge."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004

Armstrong favorite, but odds lengthen


Readabet.com notes that Lance Armstrong gets no love from the European bookies this year. He's been a heavy favorite the last two years, at 1-to-4 last year and 1-to-2 in 2002.

This year, Armstrong is 11-to-10 at one bookie, and 1.26-to-1 at another. His best odds are 90-to-100 at SportingOdds.

Perhaps the best-known European bookmaker, William Hill, has Armstrong at 1-to-1, Ullrich 2-to-1, Hamilton and Mayo 6-to-1, Heras 20-1, Ivan Basso 25-to-1, Haimar Zubeldia 28-to-1, Francisco Mancebo and Carlos Sastre at 40-to-1, and USPS rider Jose Azevedo and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano at 50-to-1.

There's a wide disparity among certain riders: Hamilton, for instance, is anywhere between 4-to-1 and 8.4-to-1, and Mancebo anywhere from 40-to-1 to 309-to-1.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2004 in Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Roberto Heras, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Heras interviewed on Tour

www.cyclingnews.com | An interview with Roberto Heras

Roberto Heras looks to me like the dark horse Tour contender. His Liberty Seguros team has concentrated on events around Spain, skipping the Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse in favor of the Euskal Bizikleta and Volta Catalunya.

Heras won the Euskal this year, and just before that race, sat down for an interview with Cyclingnews.com. He discusses perennial runner-up Manolo Saiz, his new team director; a few changes Saiz has made to improve Heras' riding; and Heras predicts that Armstrong, Ullrich, Mayo, and Gilberto Simoni are men to watch, and "I am also amongst those that weigh into the mix, within the group that comes after Lance. After Lance, well, there comes the rest of us."

Heras echoed the prevailing sentiment, that we'll see a very competitive Tour:

CN: The Tour route this year is a little different isn't it? There are less mountains in one way, but there are also less flat stages, and then there is the time trial up L'Alpe d'Huez and the changes in rules to the team time trial whereby a team can only lose up to two minutes and thirty seconds. What effect do you think this will have?

RH: I think that the differences between the contenders will be much less than it has been in recent years: We should see a Tour that is much more open.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2004 in Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2004

Roberto Heras takes Euskal Bizikleta

Eurosport.com | Heras on high

cyclingnews.com | Laiseka comes good as Heras takes GC

Roberto Heras left US Postal after the 2003 season to lead the Liberty Seguros team and seek victory in the big tours. With less than a month to the 2004 Tour de France, he's taken the biggest victory of his season, at Euskal Bizikleta (aka Bicicleta Basca).

Roberto Laiseka took the day's stage, giving the Euskaltel-Euskadi team a big win in front of the home crowd, and vaulting Laiseka into 2nd on the General Classification.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 6, 2004 in Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Catalana: Leipheimer wins Stage 4, Rodriguez takes lead

Eurosport | Leipheimer claims stage

American Levi Leipheimer of Rabobank got his first win in more than two years today in the Setmana Catalana, winning the mountaintop finish atop Port de Comte. Leipheimer and Joaquin Rodriguez of Saunier Duval caught Roberto Heras of Liberty Seguros just 150 meters from the finish.

Leipheimer took the stage win, but the higher-placed Rodriguez took over the race lead with only Friday's stage left to race. There are at least 10 riders within 4 seconds of the lead. Leipheimer is 14th, 37 seconds back. Heras, the former US Postal rider, sits 38th, 18:36 back, and Jan Ullrich, riding into shape, is 90th, 55:54 back.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 25, 2004 in Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Indurain says Armstrong highly motivated

VeloNews.com | Indurain: ‘Armstrong can win six'; Heras might disagree;

Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain told a Spanish newspaper (en Español) he likes Lance Armstrong's chances at a 6th Tour victory in July:

"As we see him going now, and looking at his rivals, I see him with the capacity to win a sixth Tour," Indurain said. "I see him with the same motivation as other years and his results so far this year indicate he took care of himself over the winter."

"Physically, he looked good even though the last Tour there were a lot of problems," Indurain said. "It's obvious that the passing years don't count in your favor, because you lose your explosiveness and this has always been his strength. But you gain experience at the same time and that's important, too. Every year it's harder to find the form and it takes longer to recover during the races. It's essential to arrive in good form at the start."

In another Spanish daily, Roberto Heras, Armstrong's former teammate, said he's shooting for nothing less than a Tour victory:

"My time has come," Heras told the Spanish daily AS. "I'm giving everything for the Tour."

"The Tour was already my goal for the 2005 season and by joining Liberty, I have moved it up by one year," said the two-time Vuelta a España champion. "I see Armstrong has begun his season on a good rhythm and he looks good. Ullrich is not as strong, but we all know from other seasons that it's not until May or June that we begin to see his true level."

Heras said he's been riding 600 miles per week and working out 5-6 hours weekly on his upper body.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 17, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Roberto Heras | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack