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2002 Vuelta

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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

58th Vuelta a España - Spain, September 6-28, 2003

An interview with Roberto Heras

"I knew I had to give it all"

By Hernán Alvarez Macías

Photo: © Unipublic
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After his stunning win in Stage 20, Roberto Heras (US Postal Service-Berry Floor) was naturally very cheerful being the "virtual" winner of the Vuelta a España. He started crying while race leader Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) was riding and the advantage Heras had was enough to become the new leader. In the post race press conference, the USPS rider was calm and spoke with the same low voice that is typical of him.

"I'm in a fantastic team and I'm in a fantastic moment," said Heras. "The strategy today was so very simple: we knew I had to go as fast as I could, I had to give it all, to give 100 percent of my strength. I knew every metre counted and was important."

Heras had bad times, sitting in third for almost the whole Vuelta. "It's an ugly situation. You have a sensation of helplessness. It felt bad not only for me but for all my team. You see the kilometres are passing by and I was helpless."

The third week was very important for him and his current position in the overall standings. "After the time trial in Albacete, the stage in La Pandera was important. I had to get back time day by day and we finally made it," commented Heras.

To the limit
Photo: © Unipublic
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Isidro Nozal should have felt the ejection of his team leader Manolo Sáiz from the race yesterday. Heras commented about this, "I really don't know what was on Nozal's mind. That's a question Nozal should answer perfectly well."

In US Postal, Heras is often overshadowed by his teammate and five time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. "I think Lance Armstrong should be happy," said Heras. "I'm in a great team with great companions. We will fight for the Tour and the Vuelta as well". But the Spanish rider doesn't think Armstrong will join him in the Vuelta a España 2004, "To win the Tour you need to do a tremendous effort, both mentally and physically. It's more than enough for him concentrating on winning his sixth Tour."

This will be the second Vuelta a España triumph for Roberto Heras after he won in 2000. Comparing both races he said, "It's a different sensation, neither better nor worse. I think I won in 2000 because I made a very good ascension of the Angliru. This time is different as I am winning the Vuelta day by day".

He is about to make it, there's just one easy stage left.

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