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Oh yeah...Azevedo joins USPS!(23 posts)

Oh yeah...Azevedo joins USPS!mohair_chair
Dec 4, 2003 9:01 PM
USPS doesn't skip a beat. Heras is out and Jose Azevedo is in. This is great news, as Azevedo is one of the top domestiques around. He's a damn good all around rider and great in stage races. Unlike Heras, he can time trial pretty well.

I became an Azevedo fan back in the 2001 Giro, when he made a suicidal descent that no motorcycle dared to follow. They only caught up to him because he missed a curve and slammed into a wall. He gets up, and continues the reckless descent no slower than before. Finally, he catches up to the solo leader, but loses the sprint for the stage win in the end. He came in 5th in that Giro, working for Olano, who got 2nd. He literally dragged Olano home in horrible conditions in the penultimate stage. Lance and USPS will be well served.
Hmmm ... too bad ASO capped the max TTT margin at 2:00!BergMann
Dec 4, 2003 9:44 PM
Yeah, Heras was pretty much dead weight in the team time trials, but you've got to admit that with the exception of Simoni, Beloki and perhaps Mayo, _no one_ out there can fill Heras' shoes when the climbing gets tough.

Yes, Azevedo was a part of the mighty ONCE TTT machine, and he can certainly climb, but given the fact that the bozos at Amaury Sports have decided that everyone will finish within 2:00 of Postal on the TTT, I'm afraid that added time trialing firepower won't make up for the loss of Heras in the mountains.

Good for Azevedo though -- riding with Moeller. Del Olmo and the rest of the dopers at Milaneza would have been beneath his dignity.
Heras wasn't a factor on the mountains last Tour.BottomBracketShell
Dec 5, 2003 6:18 AM
But Lance didn't fare so well in the mountains either. I guess it's an open question whether there's a connection. But I think Lance's climbing would have been off-form even if Heras had been sound.

If Lance is on-form next year, he'll do fine with *just* Chechu and Beltran beside him, and the decisive stage will probably the the AdH ITT anyway. I think the loss of Heras sounds like a bigger deal than it is. He's certainly put in some magnifique work for Lance.
Dec 5, 2003 6:52 AM
I'm not sure why many people think losing Heras is so detrimental to Armstrong. Of the last 3 Tours, only in '02 did Heras play a significant role. This year it was Chechu and Beltran who wowed them all in the mountains.
Yeah, Ullrich almost beat Lance...Dwayne Barry
Dec 5, 2003 7:01 AM
last year with essentially no support in the mountains. The team work thing is over-rated especially if you're the strongest guy in the race. The mountain domestiques only become critical when things are going bad and you're getting dropped (see GdG and Nozal at the Vuelta) and need somebody to close the gap in between the mountains or to pace you back. Then again, if last year's TdF was a sign that age is catching up with Armstrong he may very well not be the strongest guy at the 2004 tour.
Hell, Ullrich was almost the 10th member of Postal!OldEdScott
Dec 5, 2003 8:50 AM
He had no one to work for him, so he stuck with Lance and the Posties working for Lance were de facto also working for Jan. It was almost comical. You don't NEED a team of your own if you're a contendah.

That said, if Lance is capable of winning '04, he has plenty of team to do it sans Heras. The real question is, is he capable? I'm a big fan, but I have my doubts. It'll be interesting to see how his Spring goes.
if Roberto has the chance it is '04 tourcyclopathic
Dec 5, 2003 7:49 AM
TTT can go either way it'll be close and even if RH looses 2-3min in flat ITT he is certainly capable taking it back in AdH and nipping 20-30sec on mnt stages. We will probably see big Liberty Seguros TT engines trying to slip into break on stages 10, 15 or 17. LA ends up squeezed btw TT guys like Jan and climbers like Beloki, Simoni, Mayo and Heras. Will be fun to watch, viva Tivo!
Just to clarifySpoiler
Dec 5, 2003 8:16 AM
You didn't mean Roberto could take minutes out of Lance on ADH, correct?
He could try to use the same strategy Johan used in the Vuelta, but...
He doesn't have the same strong team supporting him. He doesn't have THE best DS guiding him.
He will be going up against USPS in its strongest possible form, which is quite different than facing ONCE's '03 Vuelta squad.
USPS won't burn themselves out trying to hold the yellow from day-one.
USPS won't have to change leadership roles two weeks into the race.
re: Just to clarifycyclopathic
Dec 5, 2003 9:01 AM
No, I didn't mean Roberto will take 2-3min in one stage, but I am not sure he can't, Mayo took 2:12 from LA on AdH. Roberto unlikely to win, but '04 route suits him way more then previous years. And he is certainly capable of podium finish.

Problem LA faces he's stuck btw climbers and TTers, he cannot get too light to slaughter Jan in mnts b/c he will loose advantage over pure climbers he has in ITT.

Now I won't argue all your points, and I am not making any predictions on who is gonna win the tour all I'm saying LA won't be in yellow on Champs-Elysées, like it or not.
Lance not in yellow = Lance not on podiumBottomBracketShell
Dec 5, 2003 10:56 AM
For Lance not to win, he would have to crack badly and lose big time somewhere. OR, he would be trailing in the last week and and take major risks to make up time, probably cracking in the process.

I think Lance is at the point in his career (age, psychology, wear and tear) that it's all or nothing for him.
you mean like big Mig?cyclopathic
Dec 5, 2003 11:29 AM
LA has to finish on podium. If he quits like Pantani, he won't be invited in '05, Leblank made a point about it. And I doubt he will crack so bad he'd finish out of top five.

Now, LA maybe ready to quit, what about Bryunil? Think about it: Postal hardly does any UCI races, with Roberto gone they're out of GC contention in Vuelta I doubt team will make UCI top 14 automatic selection. JB had invested alot into team and infrastructure, he makes a truckload of money on leases.

In the past Heras was Postal insurance. If LA cracked/crashed out tour they could always pick 1-2 mnt stages and ride for podium in Vuelta. Now, what do they have? Georgie? sure GH could win a stage, if he had half a brain.

It would be interesting to see what effect RH quitting will have on USPS. Will they add more classics to calendar? will they have someone riding for stage win in tour? will they ride for Bertran in Vuelta or go after stages?
Like big Mig, yes. nmBottomBracketShell
Dec 5, 2003 11:47 AM
Speaking of ex-ONCE men, what happened to Zarrabeitia?BergMann
Dec 4, 2003 10:05 PM
Last I heard he followed Beloki to Stayer, before Beloki committed sporting suicide and joined that pastry puff team.

If I were Johan Bruyneel, and had 1.2 million in "free" severance cash burning a hole in my pocket, I think I'd stock up and buy Zarrabeitia _and_ Azevedo. Manolo Saiz probably wouldn't lose too much sleep over riders he'd already lost, but it would still be a means of returning the compliment!
here's why heras is foolish...yeah right
Dec 4, 2003 10:24 PM
1) Look how many guys (Beloki, Valverde) wouldn't sign with this team

2) Beloki chose the bakery boys and their anaemic team over this one

3) Could have been a team leader for a much better team. People jump all over hamilton, and he's never even won a GC of a major tour, let alone two.

4) Saiz is an idiot, look how many of his riders have won GCs. umm. not as many as their talent should dictate.

5) How many times has Lance beat Saiz coached teams (and much stronger than this one)? Five and counting...

6) Heras will NEVER win the tour. With no TT ability, no angrilu, and tons of competition, he's much better sticking to the vuelta.

I have nothing against Heras, he's a great rider, but I think he's selling himself far short. And when USPS turns around and picks up guys like Azevedo, (and previously Beltran) suddenly you're almost glad to have your money back.
Heras, smart for leaving Postal...Dwayne Barry
Dec 5, 2003 6:54 AM
dumb for going to Sainz's team.

I disagree about Heras never winning the tour. Heras time trials well enough to win the tour when he's on top form (just like Simoni, Mayo) because he climbs so well. Then you have guys like GdG, Frigo, Beloki, Hamilton, Botero, Gonzalez who can climb good enough to win a grand tour because they TT so well. The big problem is when Armstrong and Ullrich show up in top form nobody climbs and Time trials in their league. Get rid of those two and Heras has a shot. Afterall, Pantani did beat Ullrich back when he was untouchable.
3) My take on Tyler Hamilton's palmaresDale Brigham
Dec 5, 2003 7:33 AM
I consider Tyler Hamilton's palmares (race results) to be more impressive than you do. Tyler won the 2000 Dauphiné-Libéré and the 2003 Tour of Romandie, which are both HC ("beyond categorization") UCI stage races, the next highest level beneath the Grand Tours (GT), the Giro, TdF, and Vuelta. While neither as long nor as prestigious as the GTs, HC stage races are certainly "major" tours by any standard.

Of course, Tyler also was 2nd in the 2002 Giro, 4th in the 2003 TdF, and won the 2003 Liège-Bastogne-Liège World Cup. I think his palmares stand up to just about any current team leaders in the pro ranks.

3) My take on Tyler Hamilton's palmaresyeah right
Dec 5, 2003 8:13 AM
I'm not trying to say that Tyler's not a great rider, because he obviously is, but restricting my criteria to three week grand tours, he still hasn't won one...yet. Heras does have two vueltas, at least one second and a fourth, but of course he's more of a stage race only kind of guy.

Romandie was impressive as was the 2000 dauphine, but when lance decides to help you win, you're in pretty good company. Still trying to compare these HC races to the big three is kind of silly. Aside from his age (what, 32-33?) Hamilton is a guy any DS not named Bruyneel would love to have as a team leader.
Point taken.Dale Brigham
Dec 5, 2003 8:40 AM

If you consider only GT results, Heras is indeed much stronger on paper than Hamilton. That said, I'd put better odds on Tyler than Roberto to snag a (unlikely) TdF win, based on Tyler's much better ITT results. You rightly pointed out that relative weakness in Heras' armor.

The age factor your note above is interesting to me. Historically, Tour champions have gone downhill fairly rapidly after 30 years of age. Today, it seems that is not quite the barrier it was previously. It could be that more specialization for Tour riders (fewer "A" races in the season) and better year-round training discipline have extended the lifespan of competitive cyclists at the top level. We may yet see a 35 year old Tour champion in our lifetimes.

he beat a motorcyle on a descent?tommy t
Dec 5, 2003 2:53 AM
This is off topic but...

I find that hard to believe that a cyclist beat a motorcyclist down a mountain. I think any proficient motorcycle rider could beat a cyclist down a mountain pass or at least keep up. Even if there is a passenger on the back with a video camera, a motorcyle has wider tires and an engine to boot . Riding 70mph on a motorcyle is cake compared to riding bicycle at that speed.
consider some Euro roadways..wspokes
Dec 5, 2003 4:30 AM
With the really narrow and twisty roads. And the wreckless abandoned of a determined cyclist and a motorcyclist who not only has to worry about himself but another person on the back. Yeah, he could probably do fine if he juiced the gas a little more...but is it worth the risk for the moto. Cool thought regarding the ability to go that fast on those decents though!
they didn't even trymohair_chair
Dec 5, 2003 7:14 AM
It was a very technical descent of a very small road. Maybe the motorcycles could beat him down, but none tried. That might have been under orders from the race director, I don't know. Nevertheless, Azevedo was absolutely flying. I wish I had that on tape.
he beat a motorcyle on a descent?Stampertje
Dec 5, 2003 9:06 AM
Yes, but you're carrying a lot more momentum into those hairpin turns on a moto. All that starting and stopping on twisty 10% grade will hurt the moto more than a 17 pound bicycle.
re: Oh yeah...Azevedo joins USPS!ssuperx10001
Dec 6, 2003 7:09 AM
what everyone is missing is when lance attacks in the moutains not even heras can cover him,look at 2002 tour stages when he was trying to give him the win.granted lance had a "bad year"but still won.Which shows how determined he is to win.that geting seperated from your wife will destroy you inside.2004 an armstrong slaughter
with only ulrich even being close,everyone else is riding for third