Riders from the Liberty Seguros team have been reconnoitering stages of the Tour de France in preparation for the year's biggest race, which starts July 2.
Roberto Heras and Alberto Contador yesterday inspected the parcours for the Tour's second individual time trial in St Etienne. This 55km test is the second-last stage of the 2005 Tour's 21 days of racing, and may be the race's decider if things are still close in the final week. Heras and Contador pronounced themselves satisfied with the route, and noted that it has two uphill sections that should favour the climbers.
Before visiting St Etienne, Heras and Contador, along with team-mate Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, also checked out the two alpine stages (Stage 10 on July 12, Grenoble - Courchevel and Stage 11 on July 13, Courchevel - Briancon). The trio rode stage 10's ascent of the Cormet de Roselend and the climb to Courchevel, and the from stage 11 took in the final kilometers of the Col de la Madeleine before continuing up the Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier to the finish.
Heras had previously reconnoitered the Pyrenean stages including stage 14's ascent of the Port de Pailhères and Ax-3 Domaines and the mountain monster of stage 15 which includes six categorized climbs: Col du Portet d'Aspet, Col de Menté, Col du Portillon, Col de Peyresourde, Col de Val Louron-Azet, and Saint-Lary-Soulan (Pla-d'Adet).
Heras, Contador and Galdeano are now in Chambery, France, waiting for Sunday's start the Dauphiné Libéré in which they will be joined by Allan Davis, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho, Marcos Serrano and Jörg Jaksche.