Vuelta a España
Please visit the official site here:
Riders To Watch
Part One of a three part series, we have a look at the riders and their teams about to do battle in Spain.
All team listings are provisional...
Astarloa, a classic style
The Spanish riders have always been said to be able to get used to any kind of cycling event easily and a clear example of this is Igor Astarloa. The Ermua-born rider achieved the victory in the Flecha Wallone. In April he was the best on the famous Mur de Huy, in front of Aitor Osa. Astarloa was as strong as Merckx, Hinault or Armstrong might have been. In such a complicated race, the rider from Saeco showed he is brilliant rider.
In Hamburg and San Sebastian he was about to win but he had to make do with the second position. He was born on the 29th of March 1976 and since he became a professional rider he has always ridden for non Spanish teams. He is one of the strongest men of the Saeco Team. Probably his last seasom with Saeco , Igor will join Cofidis next season . He is looking forward to the beginning of the Vuelta a España 2003
171 ASTARLOA Igor, 172 BONOMI Giosuè, 173 BUCCIERO Antonio, 174 FUENTES ANGULLO Juan, 175 GALLETTI Alessio, 176 GAVAZZI Nicola, 177 PEPOLI Cristian, 178 PUGACI Igor, 179 QUARANTA Ivan.
Cipollini, the master of the sprints
Mario Cipollini will probably be the star of the sprints and massive arrivals for a long time. History will remind us in a hundred years that Cipollini was a very special rider, with an incredible capacity. Last year in the Vuelta a España, the city of Murcia was known all over the world thanks to his brilliant performance; Cipollini had achieved what he called "a very special victory".
Then he showed the best of himself again in Roquetas de Mar. He became World Champion and this year he became the absolute protagonist of the Giro when he was able to break the record of stage wins achieved by Alfredo Binda. In the 8th stage he got his 41 stage win and the following day he got his 42; that meant breaking the record achieved by Binda.
Cipollini is an Italian rider famous all over the world, he was born in 1967 in Luca and became a professional rider in 1989. He rides for the Domina Vacanze and the World Champion Jersey suits him very much.
61 CIPOLLINI Mario, 62 JONES Timothy, 63 LOMBARDI Giovanni, 64 MARTIN PERDIGUERO Miguel Ange, 65 MONDINI Gianpaolo, 66 POSPYEYEV Kyrylo, 67 SCARPONI Michele, 68 SECCHIARI Francesco, 69 SIMEONI Filippo.
Stage 3 2002 - Cipollini 1st, Petacchi 2nd, Zabel 3rd, Freire 4th, Teutenberg 5th © Unipublic
Gárate, a discreet rider
A discreet rider is the one who has conditions enough as to be among the very best but he does not show it; a clear example of this kind of rider is Gárate. Technicians say that the Lampre has a very brilliant rider in their team. Juan Manuél Gárate was born in Irún in 1976, started competing in 1992 and became a professional rider in 2000.
He has been riding along the roads of the world quietly but constantly. In the Vuelta a España 2001 he won in Vinaroz, one of the most rainy stages in the Spanish race. Last season he won in Caredo during the Giro de Trentino and in Vivey during the Swiss Tour. His three stages wins have shown that he still has many hidden qualities. He must be among the best riders.
111 BELLI Wladimir, 112 BERTOGLIATI Rubens, 113 BERTOLETTI Simone, 114 PICCOLI Mariano Piccoli, 115 CORTINOVIS Alessandro, 116 GARATE Juan Manuel, 117 PAGLIARINI MENDONCA Luciano André, 118 PINOTTI Marco 119 SVORADA Jan.
Los escapados ©Unipublic
Roberto Heras, the best climber
There are many Team Managers who are completely sure about Heras´ superiority as a climber. After the brilliant performance he showed in the Tour de France, his superiority is unquestionable. The Bejar-born rider, 29 years old, comes to the Vuelta a España 2003 completely ready for it after having got the 34th position in the Tour. With the US Postal, he offered us last year an outstanding performance in La Pandera, El Angliru and finally he got the second position Overall inside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after Aitor Gozález who imposed his supremacy in the time trials.
The rider from Bejar was one of the favourite stars last year and he has always been one of the main protagonists especially at the climbs. Heras has already showed his good quality in La Vuelta when he became the absolute winner in 2000 in front of Angel Casero and Pavel Tonkov.
US POSTAL SERVICE PRESENTED BY BERRY FLOOR
HERAS HERNANDEZ Roberto, 12 BARRY Michael, 13 BELTRAN MARTINEZ Manuel,
14 HINCAPIE George, 15 JOACHIM Benoît, 16 LANDIS Floyd, 17 PENA GRISALES Victor Hugo, 18 RUBIERA VIGIL José Luis, 19 VAN HEESWIJK Max.
Stage 15 2002 - The man from Bejar, Robert Heras, rides alone to the finish. Courtesy of lavuelta.com
Santi Blanco, the rider born in Bejar
La Covatilla became part of the history of the Vuelta a España last year. This ski resort made a beautiful scenery for the brilliant performance the riders showed. Santi Blanco was the first rider to reach the top followed by Roberto Heras.
Even Santi´s Mother was encouraging his son during the hard climb. Blanco rides for Relax Fuenlabrada. He was born in Puerto Bejar on the 13th of June in 1974 and he can become one of the main protagonists of the Pérez Brothers´ team. Santi Blanco became a professional rider with José Miguel Echávarri, then in 1998 he moved to Vitalicio with Javier Minguez and then he came back to Banesto and then Fuenlabrada.
He has always been a great climber. In La Molina we saw him beating Möller and in La Covatilla he was able to win again in front of Heras, Flecha and Beloki. He is good enough to become a star and he has a good team supporting him.
51 BLANCO GIL Santiago, 52 BURGOS ROJO Nacor, 53 JUFRE POU Josep, 54 LAGUNA GARCIA Oscar, 55 MAESTRE RODRIGUEZ Jose Manuel, 56 NAVAS CHICA David, 57 NIETO FERNANDEZ German, 58 NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin, 59 REBOLLO AGUADO José Luis.
Blanco at the line. Courtesy of lavuelta.com
Dominguez, in good shape
Juan Carlos Domínguez (Phonak) is one of the best riders in the time trials. The Valladolid-born rider has already showed it in many occasions and he is qualified enough to become one of the most brilliant riders in La Vuelta. He was 32 in April, but he has strong legs and working for Alvaro Pino he will, no doubt, become one of the best. In the Giro 2002, he achieved the "Maglia Rosa" when he got the Prologue win in the Groningen track in Holland, leaving Rik Verbrugghe and Paolo Salvodelli behind.
This season he is in shape and he has showed it in the Tour de Piccardie and the Clásica de Alcobendas. His good quality and experience can help him become one of the protagonists in this major race
Phonak Hearing Systems
141 ZUELLE Alex, 142 AEBERSOLD Niki, 143 BAYARRI ESTEVE Gonzalo, 144 DESSEL Cyril, 145 DOMINGUEZ Juan Carlos, 146 GRABSCH Bert, 147 PEREIRO SIO Oscar, 148 PEREZ FERNANDEZ Santiago, 149 USOV Alexandre.
Please visit our Vuelta Poster site here.
Aitor González, the best in the Bernabeu
The Vuelta a España 2002 ended inside the Bernabéu stadium. The arrival of the riders was spectacular and Aitor González finished what he had started in Asturias with a brilliant victory. The rider must defend that Gold Jersey again in this new edition of the Vuelta a España. He was born in Zumárraga on the 27th of February in 1975 but he feels closer to Alicante as he moved to San Vicente del Raspeig when he was a child.
He started as a professional rider with the Avianca team in 1998; the following year Vicente Belda hired him and Aitor kept on showing his good quality in the time trials.
Last year he stood on the top of the podium of Vuelta a España in the Bernabéu Stadium escorted by Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki. He won in Ubrique and Córdoba and rounded off his good work in Madrid. He moved to the Italian team Fassa Bortolo where he had several physical problems. He won the Giro de Regio Calabria and the 15th stage of the Giro that was a time trial between Merano and Bolzano. In the Tour he wanted to have been stronger than the American rider Lance Armstrong, but he could not do it. This year in Vuelta a España there will be thousands and thousands of fans waiting to enjoy his brilliant style.
1 GONZALEZ JIMENEZ Aitor, 2 DE LOS ANGELES SEGUI Juan José, 3 FRIGO Dario, 4 GUSTOV Volodymir, 5 IVANOV Serguei, 6 PETACCHI Alessandro, 7 TOSATTO Matteo, 8 TRENTI Guido,
9 VALJAVEC Tadej.
Horrach, a rider born in a magic island
The Majorca-born rider Joan Horrach is a very special rider. He realized three years ago that the Spanish teams had no room for him and he moved to Portugal to defend the colours of the Milaneza MSS team. He was born of the 27th of March 1974, he is young enough as to be among the best riders.
In 2001 he achieved one stage win in the Vuelta a Asturias that ended in the Virgen del Viso Shrine in front of Carlos Domínguez and Carlos Sastre. His way of attacking in the short climbs has made him very famous. And last year he was about to win the Vuelta a Portugal. In the last time trial he lost the final victory in favour of his team mate Möller for just five seconds. His spirit will help get to the first positions
MILANEZA - MSS
MOLLER Claus Michael,
122 AMORIM VALADA Gonçalo José,
123 BARROSO Paulo,
124 CARDOSO Pedro,
125 DEL OLMO ZENDEGI Txema,
126 EDO ALSINA Angel,
127 HORRACH RIPPOLL Joan,
128 JEKER Fabian,
129 SILVA Renato.
2002 Vuelta a España Winners: Right to left - Roberto Heras 2nd, Aitor Gonzalez 1st, Joseba Beloki 3rd.
All photos and some text copyright © Unipublic.