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2001 Vuelta

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Vuelta News for September 7, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry

Casero confident for Vuelta repeat

Despite a season in the shadows with minimal racing, defending Vuelta champion Angel Casero is confident in his ability to repeat the feat this year.

"I am fresh because this year I have competed only in the Tour of Portugal and a race in Germany," Casero told El Mundo on Friday. "I feel great both physically and mentally."

Casero joined Team Coast this season after the end of the Festina's team sponsorship last year. He has missed the majority of this season due to a knee injury, but is confident that he is ready to challenge at the Vuelta.

"I think the leading challengers will be Simoni, who will be fired up after his expulsion from the Giro, Heras, who rode so well in the Tour, Beloki and Sevilla."

A better time-trialist than climber, Casero is determined not to falter on the Alto de l'Angliru this year, as he did against Roberto Heras in 2000. "I failed the l'Angliru test last time. I didn't have the right gearing set-up, but that won't happen again."

For the final Vuelta start list, click here.

Cyclingnews will provide live daily Vuelta coverage, beginning at 15:00 CEST.

Saiz envisions drama on Angliru

ONCE director Manolo Saiz expects the brutal climb of the Angliru (stage 15) to provide the real drama for this year's Vuelta. Coming at the end of a 176km stage, and rising at a gradient at times exceeding 20%, the climb has helped shaped the race in previous editions, and may do the same this year. According to Saiz, the climb comes in the last week, and "the teams that have to work will arrive very tired. There may be dramatic moments..."

Saiz has confidence in his leaders Beloki and Gonzalez de Galdeano, noting that Beloki comes to the race "at a good time and with a great desire to fight."

Zabel sizes up Vuelta competition

In an interview on Team Telekom's web site, Erik Zabel named the riders he considers his biggest competition for the sprints in this year's Vuelta. "I think most of all Alessandro Petacchi, who beat me twice in Holland. Naturally I must also pay attention to Oscar Freire and Mario Cipollini."

Asked about the loss of leadout man Gian Matteo Fagnini, forced to miss the Vuelta due to stomach problems, Zabel was not surprisingly disappointed. "It is very unfortunate. He always gives 100%, and I can always count on him. But we still have nine excellent riders at the start."

Zabel won three stages at the 2001 Vuelta, and will surely be looking to claim additional stage wins this year. The German sprinter will also be looking to finish the Vuelta and gain as much condition as possible for the World's in Zolder.

Lampre-Daikin for Vuelta

Lampre-Daikin has announced its team for the Vuelta, which includes both its youngest and oldest rider. Veteran Pavel Tonkov will ride as the team captain, alongside up and coming Juan Manuel Garate, 4th in this year's Giro d'Italia. Garate may be considered one of the team's next big hopes, but he still defers to captain Tonkov. "At the moment, Pavel is Lampre's most on form rider. I'm going to stay by him without giving up any personal satisfaction. I'm thinking about a stage. Then, if I happened to be one of the leading men of the general classification, who knows."

The full team line-up is as follows:

Pavel Tonkov, Juan Manuel Garate, Jan Svorada, Mariano Piccoli, Zbigniew Spruch, Massimo Codol, Milan Kadlec, Simone Bertoletti, Johan Verstrepen. Team managers: Maurizio Piovani, Brent Copeland.

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


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