Responding to the 10 second penalty awarded to Roberto Heras after the Liberty Seguros leader cut a few corners in yesterday's 45 kilometre individual time trial in Lloret de Mar, team manager Manolo Saiz seemed unperturbed by the outcome, saying: "These 10 seconds do not mean anything; for me, they have the same value of the six second bonus Roberto achieved before."
"These sanctions seem to me to be very sad, but the judges are those who give the orders and I do not say anything," added Saiz. "I hope that they continue applying the regulation with the same inflexibility in all cases. I did not hear on the radio the indication of where it was compulsory [to keep to one side], but I do not want to make a polemic."
Heras had a similar answer to the press: "I did not know that there was prohibited to do what I did; if I had known, I would not have done it, it has not been deliberate," he said. "I only hope that the Vuelta is not decided for these 10 seconds of sanction, but in any case, this does not affect me mentally."
Asked about the time trial itself, Heras was modest about his fifth-place performance, saying it was a good result with a natural though impressive winner in Denis Menchov. The three-time Vuelta winner also said the parcours wasn't as demanding as it seemed, with the first half favoured towards the climbers before having to 'defend' himself in the latter stages of the race.
"On the paper it is possible to say that the first four on the general [classification] are already the favourites for the final victory, but still, many things can happen in the mountains. We have four very hard stages like the ones in Andorra and Cerler, as well as Lagos and Covadonga. We are all very close in time, and I feel reinforced, even though I have lost the leadership," he said.
Saiz remarked that the differences between the best-placed riders was to be expected, but with Menchov regaining the race lead by a margin of 47 seconds, the following days is certain to create its share of uncertainty. "Now exists a complicated situation, because the [race] leader does probably not have the team best adapted to defend the maillot oro."