The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
Despite most people writing him off as an ?almost-was? following his departure from the US Postal team two years ago, Spaniard Roberto Heras proved all his doubters wrong when he ascended the steps on to the final podium of La Vuelta a Espana to collect the final overall Golden fleece for an unprecedented fourth time in his career. Heras may not have developed into the one-time Tour de France contender that many tipped him for, but for his generation, nobody can compete with the Liberty Seguros - Wurth leader in his home tour.
Coasting over the finish line just 4 seconds behind the leading sprinters in the final stage, the man from
Still only 31, Heras will be favorite again if he lines up at the start next year. Keeping him company on the final podium were Russian, Denis Menchov, a GC surprise whom had held the leaders jersey for a number of stages earlier on in the race and, fellow Spaniard, Carlos Sastre of Bjarne Riis? Team CSC. Just as Armstrong has proven in the Tour de France in recent years, age can be of great benefit in the major stage races, helping to accumulate the knowledge and experience needed to win. With victories now in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005, you would be a brave man to bet against Heras in the forthcoming years.
Also receiving the plaudits in
Surprising many of the massed media, team manager Manolo Saiz announced that Heras would next year be riding in the Giro d?Italia. "Someone laughed at me when I said it, but I think that Roberto is a rider for second efforts." The plan for Liberty will be for the him to finish the Italian race, finding his racing legs, before deciding on whether to concentrate on la Vuelta or to join the masses, all believing themselves to be the heir apparent to big Tex and the Maillot Jaune he has been keeping warm for the past seven seasons, come July.
When asked for his thoughts about competing in the Giro in May, Heras said, "It?s a race I rode just once but I liked it very much. It?s a very nice race. I think it has a very demanding mountainous part, then the time trials are not too long. It?s a race I liked the year I went."
Finishing in second spot on the podium, was the Rabobank rider, Menchov, a strong result considering the race was not considered to be one of the team?s priorities for the season, a fact highlighted by the generally weaker support provided by his team-mates than from those of the other contenders. Speaking on the teams? website, Rabobank's