By Antonio J. Salmerón
Yesterday, Spanish Saunier Duval-Prodir team worked very hard again at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Juan José Cobo maintained his leadership and his directeur sportif, Joxean Fernández Matxin, sees him as "a solid candidate for the final victory of this race because he is very convinced of his possibilities of success and because he is in a very good state of form."
But the Saunier Duval-Prodir director has also two other main riders: Gómez Marchante, who is now second on GC, and Koldo Gil, in fourth position. "The development of this race will say who will finally the best rider. At the moment, the only thing that I can say is that I have three riders able to win this race and they count on some great teammates, such as De la Fuente, Iban Mayo, Leonardo Piepoli or Iker Camaño. The team is ready to make victory possible."
Matxin knows that the road to the final triumph will be difficult, because there are still 14 other riders within one minute of the leader. "We will have to work hard like until now, from the beginning to the end, because our rivals have not said their last word yet."
'Triki' very happy
Spanish climber Manuel Beltrán, this season riding for Liquigas, has scored a first important victory. Yesterday, in the second stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, 'Triki' Beltrán was accompanied in the last kilometres by José Antonio Redondo (Astana) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), but drove away from them in the last kilometre. "Redondo was a hard rival and also deserved to win, but in my opinion, he paid for his audacity after a very demanding route", the former Discovery Channel rider said after the stage.
Beltrán is now third in the general classification, "but winning this race would be so exciting." The Spaniard seems had to benefit from an optimal state of form and his overall experience, as well as a team with which he is very satisfied. "I'm very happy at Liquigas now, " he said. "I've come to a new chapter in my long cycling career. I've always been treated well in any squad, but that belongs to the past now." Beltrán emotionally added that, "the best thing that life gave me is to have been able to be professional cyclist."