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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 8, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry

Vuelta España news: Stage 1 wrap up

ONCE-Eroski started the Vuelta in the best possible manner, winning the first stage team time trial in Valencia. The yellow clad squad directed by Manolo Saiz rode the 24.6 km course in 26'21, an average speed of 56.01 km/h. They finished 14 seconds ahead of US Postal, and 15 seconds ahead of Kelme, and Joseba Beloki was awarded the first leader's gold jersey.

Full report and results
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Post stage quotes

Manolo Sáiz (ONCE-Eroski director)

ONCE-Eroski
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
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"The victory was not easy...I am satisfied to have started in gold on the general classification, it's very nice to begin this way. Above all, I'm very happy with the 1'13 advantage that we have over Gilberto Simoni's Saeco team."

"We had a hard moment when we lost Mikel Pradera after a few kilometres - and then Jan Hruska - and that left us with only eight riders."

On the decision to have Beloki in yellow: "It was determined for a number of days because he is one of the favourites and I wanted that to gain the attention of the Vuelta and at the same time to create the necessary interest from the public."

Roberto Heras (US Postal)

"We started evenly and gradually gained our rhythm...I had very good sensations."

On Kelme: "They have improved, but it is a good sign to have finished in front of them. What is important that we have done a good time."

Vicente Belda (Kelme director)

Vicente Belda's Kelme team finished third today, after setting a very fast time at the first time check. "I am happy with the result," said Belda. "In the last five kilometres we lost our rhythm, but we have improved a great deal compared to other occasions. We knew that we could do well and had a chance to win, but in front of us we had a team such as ONCE, who have practically nine time trialists."

"Today's stage was in the terrain of ONCE, but as of tomorrow we will race on other ground. In part, I feel bad not winning at home, but the weight of the race will now be carried by ONCE."

Angel Casero (Team Coast)

"ONCE has shown itself to be the best team. We came with the intention of losing the least amount of time possible. The Vuelta is not won at the beginning, but at the end."

First Vuelta controls negative

This morning, prior to the team time trial, the first unannounced health controls of the 2002 Vuelta a España were carried out. The following teams were tested: Alessio, Jazztell-Costa de Almeria, Milaneza-MSS, Phonak Hearing Systems.

No riders tested were declared unfit to start the race.

Spanish directors optimistic

As this year's Vuelta gets underway, many are expecting the race to be a battle for top honors among the Spanish teams. Pre-race favorites Angel Casero, Roberto Heras, Oscar Sevilla, and Tour de France runner up Joseba Beloki will all be looking to stake their claim. Nonetheless, Spanish teams big and small will all be vying for glory throughout the three week event, and several Spanish directors have let their optimism be known.

Eusebio Unzúe (iBanesto.com):

"(Francisco) Mancebo has arrived in good form, and I believe that this season he has improved a lot over last year, where his results were not as big. I think that he can be one of the protagonists of this Vuelta."

Commenting on race favorites Beloki, Heras, Seville, Casero and Simoni, Unzúe added, "those five are often on the podium, and they are the great favorites. But don't forget that there are maybe eight other riders who are not far behind."

"The Vuelta is very balanced. The sprinters will have their four or five opportunities and the days in the smaller mountains provide others with their chances."

Miguel Moreno (Jazztel-Costa De Almeria):

"By the Sierra Nevada I believe that the general classification will be defined, which will give our riders the chance to look for breakaways."

"I hope to get two victories, because the Vuelta is a big objective."

"I believe that (Serguei) Smetanine can win in a sprint, or guys like (Jorge) Ferriorrio can get a stage... or the champion of Spain, Juan Carlos Guillamon."

Jose Maria Perez (Relax-Fuenlabrada):

"My riders have good morale and are very fresh, having prepared very well with about 40 to 45 days of competition."

Perez is counting on Antonio Colom and Benjamin Noval for the general classification, "because they are two men who handle themselves well in the mountains."

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)

 

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