After Thursday's final mountain stage in Avila, Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is on the downhill run to winning an unprecedented fourth Vuelta a España. Heras still has a commanding 4'30 lead over Denis Menchov (Rabobank), and with tomorrow's 39 km time trial between Guadalajara to Alcala de Henares the only real chance for Menchov to make up time, Heras should be safely in gold in Madrid.
"The team has been working together very well in the last mountain stage, and I did not have any problem to control the race," said Heras after stage 18. "There were attacks, but maybe [Stage 18] was easier for us. Still, three stages remain, but Madrid is closer every day, although we cannot relax. The stages that remain are already easier to control, and I will come to the time trial with a good cushion of time in my favour."
Liberty's team manager Manolo Saiz echoed Heras' words about Stage 18. "Today's stage was probably less difficult than that of yesterday. We let a breakaway go and the team has worked very well, and with a lot of discipline behind. No day is easy, but today our rivals probably paid a bit for the beating that they gave to themselves yesterday, because at this point of the race, it is difficult to recover a bit more. These two stages were the major obstacles that we still had, although there are still two more stages left, plus the time trial. Roberto continues to look very good to me, and he comes to the chrono with an advantage that will allow him to do it with more tranquility."