Beloki "much better"

In an interview with French velo101, Liberty Seguros' team manager Manolo Saiz was very satisfied with the progress of Joseba Beloki, and hopes that the Spaniard will improve his fitness further in view of the Tour de France. Beloki placed second on general classification at the Tour 2002, but had difficulties coming back to his peak performance since that famous crash on the Col de la Rochette in 2003.

Asked if he thought that Beloki has come back to his form of three years ago, Saiz responded, "Yes, I've seen him in Pais Vasco, then he went to Romandie. When I look at Beloki's level right now and compare it with when he placed second at the Tour, I think that he is even better now! We'll see how he develops throughout the month of May, but he will work very intensively and bring down his weight to Tour de France level. We will see how he is at the end of May, but his season start has been encouraging."

Nevertheless, Saiz ruled out that Beloki could play a part on the overall classification at this year's Tour de France again. "At the moment, our leader clearly is Vino," Saiz continued. "Everybody will have to ride for him. But for me, Beloki and Luis-Leon Sanchez are very important for Vino in the mountainous parts of the parcours."

The patron of Liberty Seguros also revealed a few names of the roster he will be using for the Grand Tour in July. "At the moment, we have 12 riders who are aiming for the Tour," he said. "I have the basis of the team, which will be put together around Jörg Jaksche, Alberto Contador, Joseba Beloki, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin and Luis-Leon Sanchez. Then, we will have to choose between riders like Angel Vicioso, Marcos Serrano and Allan Davis, but for the moment, 12 riders are on the list."

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