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Mintz to Espana.
By Anita van Crey
Date: 9/5/2003
Mintz to Espana.
-By Nina Menzel (a.k.a. yeti from and translation by Ad Huizer-

After the Tour de France the team from Essen will participate in the second big round, the Vuelta a Espana. In the beginning of the year nobody gave a penny to the team, but Jan Ullrich rode in de Tour to a terrific second place, even after a long period of injury. A long time the question was how the team climate should be, if the Spanish riders will work for Jan Ullrich. In the Tour Bianchi surprised as a team and also Angel Casero was a great assistant for "Ulle".

It goes the same way in the homeland of Casero& Co. Angel is the captain and he has five compatriots to assist him. Will he be the number one in Madrid, will Bianchi be the best team in the great tours in the year 2003? We 'll know at the end of september. It is necessary to get a good result, because at this moment Team Bianchi is the number 29 (from 30) in the UCI-world ranking, because the points of Team Coast declined. The following nine Bianchi-riders will start in Spain:

Angel Luis Casero, 30 years old, Spain
After his team Festina stopped at he end of the year 2001 he went to Team Coast. His list of success is long; he's a good tour cyclist, who is good in the mountains, but also in the time trial. In the race against the clock he's even stronger than in the mountains. In 1999 Casero was fifth in the Tour de France and became Spanish champion, in 2000 he ended second in the Vuelta. In 2001 he won his home tour in Spain, where he fulfilled his dream. In 2002 he suffered a long time from an injury at his knee, but reached at the end a terrific sixth place in the Tour of Spain. Casero is a very sensible person and is not happy with the fact that after the problems with Team Coast Bianchi did not purchase the Spanish personnel, sepecially "his" sport director Juan Fernandez. In the Tour de France he offered his own chances to work for his captain, Jan Ullrich, but in the Vuelta Casero himself is the team captain and has “free ride”. This year’s Vuelta is made for the climbers, with 5 stages finishing on the top of a mountain, so he has to follow the best climbers. In the time trials he’s able to compensate some time that he lost in the mountains. When the cyclist from Valencia arrives in Madrid in the gold jersey his team will be the most successful team in the big tours in 2003. The day before the last stage he’s celebrating his 31th birthday, can Casero himself get the nicest present?

Felix Manuel Garcia Casas, 34 years old, Spain
He was at the 20th of June 2003 short-dated purchased from the French Trade Team 2 Big Mat. The specialist in the mountains finished 8th in the Vuelta in 2002. He will especially support his captain in the mountains.

Aitor Garmendia Arbilla, 35 years old, Spain
When the great Miguel Indurain ruled the Tour de France the man from Itsasandro was at his side. Garmendia has a lot of experience with the three big tours and rode for Banesto and Once, before his Team Coast period. He’s a good tourrider, he won in his long career (13 years) as a pro cyclist the Galicia Tour, the Vuelta Castilla-Leon , the Aragon Tour, in the year 2001 he was the third man in the Spanish time trial championship, second in the Tour of Germany and also second in de Tour of Peace.

Fabrizio Guidi, 31 years old, Italy
He is the one and only Italian in the Italian sponsored team. Last year he acquired a second and a fourth place in the so called “Euro-Giro”. He even got the pink jersey after the exclusion of Stefano Garzelli. That yellow jersey was a cold comfort for the sprinter from Ponterdera, he would like to wear the jersey in the streets of his country. Last year he triumphed in Firenze-Pistoia, a time trial, rather a surprise because he ‘s a sprinter. In the Tour many people saw him as a man, who got a contract to please the sponsor, but he placed well in the sprint several times and did right to his nomination.

Jaime Javier Hernandez Beltran, 31 years old, Spain
He was a Festina rider a few years ago and has a big experience with the three big tours, where he never was able to reach a high position. Jaime Hernandez is one of the few Spanish riders who can ride very well in the classics, he arrived three times at the velodrome of Roubaix. Jaime Hernandez is a valuable assistant in the team.

Francisco José “Paco” Lara Ruiz, 26 years old, Spain
He comes from Granada and is pro cyclist since three years. His big quality is riding in the mountains; in the year 2001 he was the second man in the mountain ranking in Baskenland and in the tour of Portugal. He will be a good assistant in the mountains.

David Plaza Romero, 32 years old, Spain
The man from the capitol of Spain, Madrid, is a good tour rider, which he proved with the victory in the time trial and the final ranking in the Germany Tour 2000 and with the sixth place in the Vuelta 2001. Due to a broken arm in training at the start of this season and the many blockades of Team Coast he was unable to perform his training as usual, so he could not make that much kilometres. He participated in the Tour de France and will start in Spain in his second big tour in the current season.

Thorsten Rund, 27 years old, Germany
He comes from Lübben, is third years pro cyclist and started his career on the track. He participated in the Olympics in Sydney and Atlanta, was the champion in Germany several times and second in the world cham- pionship team pursuit. His aim is to be a good rider for the team.

Raphael Schweda, 27 years old, Germany
He is born at the same place as Jan Ullrich, Rostock and was several times successful in the seven years as a pro cyclist. In the year 1999 he ended at the very good second place in de HEW Cyclassics in Hamburg, in 2000 he won the Alstadt- rennen in Nürnberg. In 2002 he was a helper in Parijs-Roubaix and finished very well on the 11th place, finished second in a stage in the tour of Italy, Was the fourth man at the German championship on the road and started in the world championships on the road in Zolder, Belgium. In the year 2003 things went out badly, in his favourite classics, the tour of Peace (with a stage through his residence Leipzig) Schweda could not start due to the problems of his former team, Team Coast. In the Tour de France this year he was finally replaced by a teammate, this was a big disappointment for him. Now eventually he will participate in a big tour, maybe he can give a good end to his season by acquiring a good place in one of he stages.

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