Liberty Seguros-Würth team manager Manolo Saiz has downplayed the victory by leader Roberto Heras on Stage 6 of the Vuelta a España, not wishing to elaborate on whether or not the team will defend the race lead in the coming days. "The leader's maillot is just one part. Now comes one long time trial and we have to think about other things," he said in a team statement.
"Today was a victory of the whole team, because all the riders did a great job and culminated in a great ride by Roberto Heras. The only thing that surprised me today was that [Denis] Menchov lost time. Anyway, from how we rode, it was possible to foresee that we would do a great stage."
Heras echoed: "We took responsibility on the last climb, which is where we had to do it, and the truth is that all my companions were sensational. Today yes, I was the strongest, but we are at the begriming of a three week tour and still many things can happen. To be the strongest it is necessary to demonstrate it every day."
Based on his comments before the stage, Heras again said he really didn't believe the day would turn out like it did. "The truth is that I did not [think he would be the race leader after the stage].
"I believed that riders like Joaquín Rodríguez [Saunier Duval], placed well in the general, would fight today to obtain the leader's jersey. I was not expecting to be there. The thing was that the stage was very deceptive, it was much harder than seemed. There was not one metre of flat and it did a lot of damage."
Not surprisingly, Heras believed the race was far from over, knowing that there are still a number of teams who have come to the Vuelta 'to make much war'. With his newly acquired golden tunic, however, the 31 year-old said he will ride defensively for now, outlining Francisco Mancebo [Illes Balears] and Carlos Sastre [Team CSC] as his two biggest rivals. "Now I only defend what I have gained," Heras said. "We have it [the lead] today, but it is necessary to see how the race develops; it is still too early to take these decisions."
When Saiz was asked about the responsibility of having to defend the race lead after less than a week, he said with confidence: "We have always held the responsibility, and if it is because we have done a great job, we welcome it."
Asked why he hasn't been able show such form at recent Tours de France, Heras said he still isn't sure himself, but is determined to find an answer. "What I feel now is that my body is now at 100 percent and in the Tour I have not felt well in last two years. I cannot explain it; we will try to look for a response next winter, because also other seasons I have done good Tours de France," he said.