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Heras plays it cool

Heras wearing Gold on stage 8 - the Spaniard is confident he can get the jersey back

Heras wearing Gold on stage 8 - the Spaniard is confident he can get the jersey back (Image credit: AFP)

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is confident about taking the Golden jersey of the Vuelta a España overall lead back from Denis Menchov (Rabobank). Heras was satisfied with his performance on yesterday's first Pyrenean stage, where his rival was able to hold on to his wheel, but the three-times Vuelta winner knows theres is still a long way to go before the race's finish.

"I felt well, especially when I attacked in the tunnel with five kilometres to go," Heras said after the stage. "But I couldn't continue because this climb wasn't very difficult. The hardest bit was at the beginning, and Menchov stuck to my wheel so that didn't make it easier: there was a headwind."

The experienced Spaniard is prepared to take the race day by day. "The Vuelta needs to be ridden little by little, and there is still a lot of racing ahead. For me, the question isn't to take advantage of every day, but to go little by little. Sastre lost some seconds, but you can't jump to conclusions about it, because he started the climb very strong. In a three weeks Grand Tour, the key is regularity, because every day is different," continued Heras, who wants to take a fourth Vuelta overall win this year.

Nevertheless, he regretted that Mancebo passed him with a few metres to the finish line in yesterday's stage ten to the ski station of Ordino-Arcalis. "It was a pity that i couldn't finish with a stage victory," he said. "I threw the sprint, but Mancebo came around very strong from behind. I saw him come, but I couldn't do anything - I don't know what would have happened had I started a bit later... you never know."

Heras' team director Manolo Saiz was also happy with the way things went yesterday, and was already focussing on the next stage ahead, where he believes his rider can make more of a difference. "It's a very difficult climb, and when there's a headwind there's no relief at all. You're glued to the ground after every curve," Saiz explained, also noting that the most important thing was the stability of his team. "For me it's important that the team was fine yesterday. Today will be more difficult as we will miss Nozal [who abandoned], and the stage is hard from beginning to end. As for our rivals, Mancebo recuperated better than Sastre, which shows that he is a better rider, but there's still a lot of the Vuelta to come to get some time back."

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