Aitor Gonzalez, Heras and Pereiro ready to go

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 be the penultimate rider to start just before Heras: "That's important because I will know the others' times," he said. "The last time I began second to last I won, that was in Romandie, so we'll see if I can repeat it...I don't know if I'm recovered from the Tour where I gave everything. This is the first time I have done two Grand Tours, we'll try to win tomorrow [today] and then go day by day."

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