Vuelta News for September 17, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
No polemics for Saiz
ONCE team director Manolo Saiz says that there will be no internal team
politics governing his team's leadership during the second half of the
Vuelta. Currently the young and relatively inexperienced Isidro Nozal
is at the top of the general classification, with team captain Igor Gonzalez
de Galdeano holding down second place. In last year's Vuelta, Kelme was
faced with a similar situation whereby Oscar Sevilla was the team captain
but Aitor Gonzalez was the stronger rider in the end.
"Last year there were real polemics because Aitor González and Sevilla
were not getting on, but that is not the case here," Saiz told Europa
Press. "We've had the lead since the first day and we've won in three
different specialties. The truth is that I'm very proud of my riders.
They've delivered a great deal while being in a difficult situation.
As to who should take the role of ONCE's leader, Saiz was quoted as
saying, "The debate is so stupid that you can't understand it. It's not
even worth me commenting why in order to fill space in a newspaper. Because
that doesn't do anyone any good. You can't convert the world of sport
into a novel."
"Who is the leader? The leader is ONCE. It doesn't matter to me who
wins. I don't have problems if one or another rider wins, or even a third
if he is one of mine. It's something that people don't understand."
Saiz ruled out any internal conflict between Isidro Nozal and Igor Gonzalez
de Galdeano. "There are no problems with the character of Igor or that
of Nozal. It is not correct to say that there is an internal problem and
externally they are selling lies. There are people who can't live without
The ONCE director also defended the actions of Nozal on the descent
of the Aubisque, when he had to chase down the break with Heras and co.
as well as getting water bottles for Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. "20 years
ago we would speak of the 'epic' that a leader condescended to give water
to a teammate who is working and another one who is thirsty. As the strongest
rider, he takes advantage of this and helps his teammates. It's spoken
of with contempt now, but the Bible says that we must feed the hungry
and give drinks to the thirsty."
Biblical allusions aside, Manolo Saiz will try to guide his flock of
yellow and black clad men through the second half of the Vuelta without
too many hardships. There's still a long way to go until Madrid, but ONCE
is still in the best position.
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