Liberty Seguros Wurth
Heras for Giro 2006, a transitional new Tour leader for two years while Contador matures, the focus at Liberty Seguros is to develop their young riders while keeping the sponsor happy. Manolo Saiz pulls no punches in this interview….
Manolo Saiz’s interview
How do you judge the Liberty Seguros-Würth Team in the first two weeks of the Tour?
Its difficult to judge because it is possible to misjudge our race so far. Most of my riders have done as well as we hoped they would , unfortunately the Tour has not gone well for Roberto Heras. If Roberto had ridden to his potential, as riders like Jaksche, Contador, Davis, have done everybody would say that we are doing a good Tour.
But when the expectations of the leader are not fulfilled, its too easy to think that every thing is. Besides,you also need a little luck . Yesterday, for example, before the break which Allan Davis got it there were two earlier attempts which included Contador and Serrano which would have been far more interesting for us. We have lacked a little luck.
What has happened to Roberto Heras?
I have absolutely no doubt that Roberto has come into this Tour well prepared and highly motivated. However it seems to me he is better on his second effort in the Grand Tours. Last year he also did badly in the Tour yet went on to win the Vuelta a España. On the other hand, already I have spoken with him and next year it is possible that he will ride the Giro d'Italia instead of the Tour.
Does it mean you must look for a new leader for the Tour?
We must look for a rider for the Tour, even though we already have him in the team with Alberto Contador. But he is still very young and it is necessary to him to mature. For the good of our sponsors and of the team we need a leader who can take us through this transition period over the next two years, It is important that we do well in the General Classification of the Tour de France.
We must look for this rider, but whether there is a rider of that quality available in the peloton is a different story.
What do you expect of Liberty Seguros-Würth in the race's third week?
What we are already doing, to get in the breaks and try and get a stage win.
What riders still have form as we go into the final part of the Tour?
Except Beloki, who is very tired, and Heras, who is struggling , any of our other riders could win a stage. Our only problem is that when the Team captain is not on song it casts a gloomy light on the entire team .
Jaksche suffered very much yesterday, what can be expected from him in the rest of the race?
Well we were not surprised by what happened to him yesterday. In the first week he worked for his team, until he became the best classified of the team. But Jörg is not a climber and for him it is very difficult to recover after a day in the mountains, because of that fact , yesterday, in the second stage of the Pyrenees, the last 7 kilometres were too much for him.
IHas he recovered now?
Yes, Jaksche is combative and knows that, since other riders have already done it, he can get in a break and rise on the General Classification. But that is not our target, we have only one goal now ,to win a stage.
Are you satisfied of how the young riders have done in this Tour?
Yes. Allan Davis has done well . There are men faster than him, but he has improved from last year. This is the first season when he has been within a bicycle of the winner in sprints on almost every occasion. Besides, he adds a lot to the team , he was very strong for us in the team time trial and as we saw yesterdays can get into the breaks.
Luis León is the youngest, but he did the first big stage of Alps and from there he is doing good work supporting his team mates. He is taking it steadily in the big mountains , because I want him to learn.
Finally, Alberto Contador is in Tour's fourth line. The first line is that of Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich. The second one, that of Mancebo, Landis and company. The third one, that of Kloden, Jaksche, Moreau, Zubeldia, etc.
Contador is already very close to this third level, as shows his third position in the White Jersey Classification, behind Popovich and Kashechkin, who are three years older.
To what conclusions have you come along this Tour?
It has cleared up a few things about the present team and I have seen that we can be encouraged for the future.
And in general, how have you seen the race?
I have seen Armstrong's clear authority. Lance is the champion of the decade and is a step up from the rest .
What do you think about Beloki's performance?
Joseba has been with us for two years, actually three, because his last big tour was 2002 Vuelta, without getting any results , and it is a lot of time. He has had a bad start to the year because of his allergy problems, and that caused a delay. right now we still don’t know if he will return to his former level. We will know that better after the Tour.