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Vuelta a Espana Cycling News for August 27, 2005

Date published:
August 27, 2005, 1:00 BST
  • Chasing the maillot oro once again

    Article published:
    August 27, 2005, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes in Granada

    After a strong performance in last year's Vuelta, Phonak's Floyd Landis is back in Spain for another...

    After a strong performance in last year's Vuelta, Phonak's Floyd Landis is back in Spain for another crack at the maillot oro. With another Tour de France under his belt, and a powerhouse team behind him, Landis talks to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes about his chances of 'wearing gold' in 2005.

    2005 has marked a turning point in the career of Floyd Landis. The 29 year old rider went from being a trusted lieutenant of Lance Armstrong at US Postal to one of the team leaders at Phonak, deciding after years of riding in the service of the Tour champion that it was time for him to strike out on his own and starting winning races for himself.

    Last year's Tour was undoubtedly a catalyst in that decision. Landis rode well throughout the race, performing strongly in the mountains, going close to taking a stage win and generally showing that he had what it takes to be a very solid Grand Tour rider. Winning the stage 3 time trial in the Tour of Georgia this spring underlined that point, and even though a strong Discovery Channel team wrested the race leader's jersey from his shoulders before the end, he had given a strong indication that a new mentality - and freedom - was paying off.

    Following his return to Europe, good performances in the Dauphine Libéré showed that he was on track as regards his preparations for the Tour de France. And while Landis didn't set the race alight as he may have hoped, a good ninth place overall showed that he can realistically aim higher in the future. Indeed, he has a chance to take a strong Grand Tour result here on the Vuelta, with Landis' long spell in the maillot oro twelve months ago acting as perfect inspiration for an even more successful campaign this time round.

    He's done things a little differently in the run up, in order to avoid the drop in form he experienced towards the end of last year's race. "I was okay for the first two weeks, but it [the Vuelta] was a bit long. I had raced hard...

  • Getting the big gear rolling again

    Article published:
    August 27, 2005, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes in Granada

    By Shane Stokes in Granada Tom Boonen has had a spectacular year, taking victories such as the Tour...

    By Shane Stokes in Granada

    Tom Boonen has had a spectacular year, taking victories such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, winning two stages of the Tour de France and also triumphing in events such as the Tour of Belgium, where he was first overall and took two stages. Stage wins also came a-calling in Paris-Nice (two), the Tour de Qatar (two) and the Tour of Picardie, as well as a victory in the E3 Prijs. The talented Belgian crashed heavily in the Tour de France while leading the points classification, injuring his knee, and had he not been forced to pull out, was many people's tip to wear the green jersey all the way to Paris.

    Other, less-hungry riders would be easing back on the pedals now. But Boonen wants more. He's at the Vuelta to build form for what he hopes will be a winning campaign in the world championships in Madrid next month. Before then, a stage win or two would go down well with the Quick.Step rider.

    "For me, the most important thing about this race is to work hard and do a lot of kilometres," he told journalists at the team's pre-race training camp on Friday. "I have to stay relaxed, I don't have to take any risks but that doesn't mean that I won't be mixing it up in the sprints. If I am there and there is a sprint, I will be competing in it...that's for sure.

    "Next Sunday there is a second category climb 13 kilometres from the finish. I know it, two years ago in the Vuelta we did the same climb. We also did it twice in the Ruta del Sol. If I am really good, I can stay with the bunch there and go for the sprint. But I don't know how I am going, as yet."

    Boonen has some good memories of the race, not least as it was here where he confirmed he had the legs to contest big gallops. "I did the Vuelta in 2003," he recollects. "For a lot of people it was the first time they saw Tom Boonen as a sprinter. Actually it was quite a funny story, because Aurelien Clerc was actually the team...

  • Aitor Gonzalez, Heras and Pereiro ready to go

    Article published:
    August 27, 2005, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Hernan Alvarez Macias in Granada

    By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Granada The the start of the 2005 Vuelta a España nigh, Cyclingnews...

    By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Granada

    The the start of the 2005 Vuelta a España nigh, Cyclingnews spoke with three of this race's main contenders yesterday: Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak).

    Gonzalez, the 2002 winner, said he wants to do a good ride and he hopes that the previous work gives him benefit on the road. "My season was a recovery season, to call it in one way," he told us. "It seems I am able to reach a great level again". About his feeling on the team presentation day, he commented, "I'm easy, today is day 0, but the tension starts tomorrow [today], that will be day 1".

    Speaking about the route, Gonzalez added, "I have the long time trial before the mountain stages, though there's the Alto de Valdelinares, the first uphill finish before the time trial. To have a time trial before the mountain stages could be very positive for me because I could reach those days with some advantage to some riders."

    Roberto Heras was very relaxed, sharing the table with his team during the race presentation. "I'm calm," said Heras. "I have confidence, let's see how things go". The Liberty Seguros-Würth rider has already won the Vuelta three times, he's able to make a record this year as the only cyclist to win it four times. "I thought about it, but what excites me right now is to win the race, not only to beat a record".

    Heras, like many, will take the race day by day. "The Vuelta is a three-week competition and each day is very important, so we should think of the daily work. I should go little by little, day by day, see how the strength is and see how the race is going."

    Phonak's Oscar Pereiro is another candidate for the final triumph, and he told us, "I can't wait for the race to begin. One week of training locked in a hotel room is a long time. I want to see how I feel inside the race."

    Oscar will...

  • McGee targets prologue, says Grand Tour wins are beyond him

    Article published:
    August 27, 2005, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes in Granada

    By Shane Stokes in Granada When Brad McGee thunders out of the start house today at 16:57 CEST,...

    By Shane Stokes in Granada

    When Brad McGee thunders out of the start house today at 16:57 CEST, he'll have one thought in mind: trying to add the maillot oro to the pink jersey of Giro leadership and yellow of the Tour de France which are already in his wardrobe. The 29 year old Australian got it tough in the Tour due to injury, and was then sidelined afterwards when his wounds from a final stage crash got infected. He's only raced once since then, riding the Classic de l'Indre Trophée Fenioux in France last Sunday, but is hoping that freshness and enthusiasm will make up for his lack of competition.

    "I have got the Giro [lead], the Tour, and this is the one little jersey I don't have," he told Cyclingnews after the Vuelta team presentation in Granada's Paseo del Salon last night. "I am really hungry for it. I haven't seen the course yet but on paper it looks good. It has a nice climb, it is quite technical. If I am on, I am on and it is doable."

    Although McGee finished 8th overall in the Giro last year, he says that he has no aspirations for general classification here. "I've nothing planned as far as GC goes," he stated. "Look, we are in Spain, I never raced here before apart from [the Tour of] Pays Basque. I don't know the riders, I don't know the roads, I don't know how it happens. I am here just to re-find my racing form and have fun with it, and hit some stages really hard. I am looking at the world championships as well."

    Although some felt that the FDJ rider could one day win a three-week Tour, McGee has now decided that is beyond him. "A one-week Tour, yeah. A three-week Tour, no. It is about time I accepted that, refocused on new goals on what is realistic, what works for me and the team.

    "I have definitely got the capabilities for a strong GC ride, it is there, but I think it is too much of a risk to focus it all on one three-week race. Let's face it, I thought that top 10 or top 20 was...