Liberty Seguros-Würth's Manolo Saiz is one of the most experienced campaigners in the professional peloton. Establishing and running one of the sport's longest-running professional teams has thrown up its fair share of challenges, all of which Saiz has had to deal with, as he tells Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner.
In 1989 Saiz began what became one of the sport's longest-running professional teams, ONCE, and it wasn't long before the Spanish outfit was a major force, producing several champion riders and a Vuelta a España overall title. In 2003, ONCE, the Spanish lottery of the blind pulled out as major sponsor, but Saiz was able to find a new backer, insurance company Liberty Seguros. The patron of the family he had created continued his ambitious project in the same way as he had before, achieving another two Vuelta overall wins with Roberto Heras - and a third one which the former US Postal rider was stripped after a positive test for EPO.
Consequently, Saiz has had to deal with the ramifications of Heras' positive test, and it hasn't been easy. Defending one of his star riders is a big burden for the 47-year-old Spaniard, and he's had to put the events of late 2005 behind him and look to the future, which includes fostering talented riders such as Andriy Kashechkin, Luis Leon Sanchez and Alberto Contador, plus the arrival of a certain rider by the name of Vinokourov.
Cyclingnews: You've always been one of the best managers for fostering young talent - do you have a lot of confidence in your younger riders this season, such as [Andriy] Kashechkin and [Alberto] Contador?
Manolo Saiz: Yes, I think riders like these are the future. If we can race well, the victories will come, even if the rider is only 22 years old now. Many focus on Contador, but for example Luis Leon Sanchez has also impressed me; on the day up to Saint Etienne he first waited for Kashechkin, then he came back on the front group, and he's only 22 years old. That's the most important thing for me - with this many young riders on the team, generally speaking, we have a great future ahead of us.
Click here for the full interview with Manolo Saiz.