US Postal Service Team Report
Led by a former race champion and a roster that the team's director sportif called the strongest it has ever brought to the event, the United States Postal Service team, today announced its complete list of starters for the upcoming Tour of Spain, which starts in Gijon on Saturday.
The team will again be led by 2000 race champion Roberto Heras. Over the last six years, Heras has finished first (2000), second (2002), third (1999), fourth (2001), fifth (1997) and sixth (1998) at the Tour of Spain. Heras will be joined by three riders from last year's USPS Vuelta team - fellow Spaniard Jose Luis Rubiera, Canadian Michael Barry and Australia's Matt White - along with Manuel Beltran of Spain, Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, Luxembourg's Benoit Joachim and Max Van Heeswijk of the Netherlands.
The team will be led by Roberto, who deserves to be the leader of our team at the Vuelta, said Johan Bruyneel, the team's director sportif. I think our team is probably the strongest we have ever sent to the Vuelta in our history. Roberto is fully recovered from the Tour de France and said he is ready to go for it.
The Vuelta, which opens with a 30 kilometer team time trial, features six mountain top finishes and 16 climbs of first and above category status. Last year's final individual time trial to Madrid to close the race has been replaced by a more traditional road stage on September 28, but the penultimate stage is a 12 km uphill time trial that could decide the overall GC.
Bruyneel added the team will have great support for Heras in the mountain stages in Rubiera, Landis and Beltran along with added strength on the flats with the addition of Hincapie to ride alongside White, Van Heeswijk, Barry and Joachim.
George and Floyd are two good riders who, due to other circumstances this season, have not yet reached 100% of their strength, said Bruyneel and continued They both rode the Tour but still have lots of energy left for the rest of the season. These are riders who are still fresh to ride the whole month of September and that is the key. The most important thing is you have to have fresh and motivated riders - that is 50% of their performance in the month of September. If you have a rider who is motivated and fresh, that is a pretty good guarantee for good results. Floyd in particular is very motivated. He was already talking about the Vuelta during the last week of the Tour.
Bruyneel also said Heras has been feeling well the last month. He took time off after the Tour, tested his feelings at the Tour of Burgos, left that race feeling good and has continued to work hard since.
2003 TOUR OF SPAIN ROSTER:
Roberto Heras (ESP)
Manuel Beltran (ESP)
Jose Luis Rubiera (ESP)
George Hincapie (USA)
Floyd Landis (USA)
Benoit Joachim (LUX)
Max Van Heeswijk (NED)
Matt White (AUS)
Michael Barry (CAN)