ROBERTO HERAS WINS 4th VUELTA A ESPANA
THE REIGN IN SPAIN. The enduring little Spaniard won his fourth Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) in front of the home crowds in Madrid today, concluding the 21st stage of the third epic of the pro cycling season. Heras, who rode with US Postal Service team and Lance Armstrong for several years, relies on excellence in the mountain stages and good team tactics to win the Gold Jersey of the Vuelta's General Classification. While he had disappointing performances earlier in the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and Tour de France, Heras rose to the occasion before his countrymen. Congratulations, Roberto!
SUNSET ON 2005 SEASON. There will be more races in the late season of 2005 for pro cyclists, but the "big ones" conclude with today's sunset in Madrid. Some teams will go back to the drawing board, wondering what happened to their "sure fire" combinations of great riders; others will go to the bank and revel in victories and sound accomplishments. Whatever pro cycling looks like in 2006, it will be something less without the competitive espirt of a Lance Armstrong-driven team in the Tour de France. I hope Discovery Channel works hard to help another American contender emerge, but I'm not expecting overnight miracles. Still, I'll continue to anticipate and enjoy the Tour de France as I have over the past seven years.
BEST-PLACED AMERICANS. Tom Danielson of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team was the best-placed American at the end of the Vuelta; Danielson finished 6th. He was the second best-placed non-Spaniard; second place went to Denis Menchov of Russia. American Christian Vandevelde of Team CSC placed 32nd out of 127 finishers.