Saturday’s mailbag: All Heras, all the time

A pro team is not a socialist organizationEditor:I find it rather silly that people can write things like, "Heras was always there for Lance in the Tour de France, but was Lance ever there for Heras in the Vuelta?"As we all know, Lance has not ridden the Vuelta in support of Heras. But where is it written that Lance is obligated to do that? Heras was signed to Postal as a support rider for the team leader, period. As it turns out, Heras is more than capable of being a team leader himself. But as far as I know, cycling teams are not socialist organizations where everyone has the same

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

A pro team is not a socialist organization
I find it rather silly that people can write things like, "Heras was always there for Lance in the Tour de France, but was Lance ever there for Heras in the Vuelta?"

As we all know, Lance has not ridden the Vuelta in support of Heras. But where is it written that Lance is obligated to do that? Heras was signed to Postal as a support rider for the team leader, period. As it turns out, Heras is more than capable of being a team leader himself. But as far as I know, cycling teams are not socialist organizations where everyone has the same status, privileges, or salary.

I root for all kinds of cyclists from all over the world (and in many races other than the Tour). It was nothing short of awesome to follow the live coverage of the Vuelta this year, to see Heras take the leader’s jersey in the final time trial. I think this move for Heras will ultimately be best for his own career, and I’m glad to see it.

Having said that, I find it curious that people are so quick to blame Postal for all kinds of injustice toward Heras, as though Heras himself was forced to join one of the biggest cycling outfits as a support rider. On the contrary, Heras made a decision to join Postal. But you still get people ranting that Lance is obligated to ride the Vuelta in support of Heras Should Lance ride all of the classics in support Hincapie? What about riding next year’s Olympics in support of Ekimov?

Come on, people, whether you like it or not, professional cycling is a business, people sign contracts, and if you commit to being a support rider, then that’s what you’re going to be.

Kaan Erdener
Austin, TX

Heras will finally get some backup
Good move for Roberto! I think that with this move Roberto will get the team support he deserves.

I feel that the hiring policies of Postal are two-fold:

One, get together the best teams possible; two, keep the threats that you can afford under control of the team. Hire the best, and hire the threats – that’s a good business plan.

With the ITT up D’Huez Heras has a more than a fighting chance to get way up on the GC. Take the yellow jersey, maybe; weaken Postal, definitely.

Hopefully Lance won’t get all pissy like he does with others that have left.

Jim Volsansky
San Ramon, CA

Teamwork will make difference in Tour 2004
As we are predicting, there will be enough teams to pay attention to (CSC, Phonak, T-Mobile, Brioches, Liberty Seguros, and obviously USPS). At the end, it will be teamwork to make the yellow difference. If we thought that 2003 TdF was the best in years; I can’t wait to see the 2004 TDF.

I just hope OLN won’t include bull riding during Tour time.

Flavio Gabaldon

It ought to be an epic race
Now that Roberto Heras won’t have to worry about his duties to "The Boss,"we now get to add Heras to the group of Armstrong, Hamilton, Ullrich, Vino, Beloki and Mayo who are going to be going all out up the Alpe d’Huez time trial. Try handicapping that race. Is "epic-er" a word?

Andy Pasternak
Reno, NV

Postal gave Heras plenty of support
Yes, Heras is a fantastic cyclist and he deserves to compete for himself as he has shown in the Vuelta. But, as I remember, it was the amazing Postal team that helped him win or stay close to the front during this year’s triumph.

Roberto is a great cyclist and has an extreme amount of talent; you cannot take that away from him. How much has Heras learned from working with Lance, has he become a better rider because of his experience with Postal? Looking at the big picture, Lance won the Tour before Heras was on the team, and then benefited from him once he joined Postal.

I would also like to comment on the whining about poor equipment for Heras. Lance puts in the time and obsessiveness to work with companies to create advantages for himself. I have yet to read of other riders as fanatical, so why should they reap the benefits of his labor?

When Lance wins his sixth tour by one second or 30 minutes, he will make Tour history. Why would a friend and teammate not want to be a part of this? I cannot wait to see Lance drop Heras on a nasty climb, and then we can have another moment posterized! Go Lance!

David Bradley
Fishers, IN

Postal Service epitomizes class act
Watching Roberto Heras triumph in the final days of the Vuelta was magnificent. And while he put in a tremendous performance, none of us will forget the outstanding support he got from the Postal Service squad, or the splendid job that Johan Bruyneel did to make the win possible. Neither will we forget the spectacle of Manolo Saiz losing it in front of millions of television viewers.

So now Heras has a chance to show what he can do in the Big Race. And what did the Posties lose from his departure? Nothing. Young riders will always be attracted to the classiest team in the sport as they see a chance to replace those who move to other teams. And we can probably count on Heras and his new team not to forget what it was like to be part of a class act, no matter who they’ve got sitting in the team car next year.

From where I’m sitting, I can’t recall a team with such a positive effect on the sport of cycling as Lance and the U.S. Postal Service.

Spoon Dickey
Seattle, WA

Team showed no respect for Heras
Roberto Heras’s departure from Postal can only be attributed to the complete lack of respect shown to this great rider by the Postal team and its other riders.

After sacrificing himself for Lance two years ago, by shredding on every climb the group of strong men remaining after Rubiera shredded the peloton, Postal repaid Roberto by allowing support rider Levi Leipheimer to ride for himself, instead of for his captain, and take the final podium spot in Madrid. This year, George Hincapie was allowed to leave the Vuelta after two weeks to prepare for the world’s rather than to continue to support Heras’s bid for the podium.

Has anyone ever bothered to check the Postal web site? I think the Heras victory appeared about a week after the race ended. Further Lance, in each post-stage interview, fell all over himself to sing the praises of "Tricky Beltran" but never Roberto.

If the fatal attack comes from Roberto, Lance, Johan and Corporate Tom will only have themselves to blame.

Brad Mortensen
St. Davids, PA

Change should help Heras buck up
I must have not watched the Tour as closely as the rest of your readers. It seemed to me Heras couldn’t keep up with the guys in front in several very important climbs where Lance could have used him. So now that he’s moved on, so what?

I think Heras’s career will definitely benefit from this move, as I think he’s gotten a little stagnant in his USPS position. It should make for an exciting Tour, and his performance will no doubt be better now that his heart will be into it.

Erik Voldengen
Portland, OR

Lance has other riders to worry about
I fail to see why there has been such a huge furor over Heras’ departure from Postal. Postal is an incredibly strong team, and Heras (even before the Azevedo acquisition) can be easily replaced. Did no one notice Chechu doing a lot of the work in 2002 and 2003? Or guys like Floyd, George and Manuel?

I also fail to see Heras being a threat in Le Tour – it is a very different race from La Vuelta, and one Manolo Saiz seems to be unable to win as of late. He may make things exciting, but a contender for the GC? No way. If he couldn’t learn to TT under Johan and Lance, he likely just can’t.

Me, I’m still scared by the boys in purple – Ullrich, Vino, Evans, Botero, Salvodelli. If they all stay healthy it will be a battle royale indeed!

Matt Mizenko
Murray Hill, NJ

Heras was hired as helper, and knew it
All this chatter about Roberto sacrificing his career at Postal is poppycock. Heras was hired to help Lance! That was his job, and he knew it. The exposure he got at Postal was much greater than if he’d stayed with Kelme anyway.

Good luck to both of them…it’s going to be an awesome TDF next year.
Patrick Caselli
San Jose, CA

And now, a word from the Jedi
Good luck!…..may the force be with you.

BJ Meyers
Allentown PA

Lance hasn’t a thing to worry about
It is very interesting to read all the Armstrong vs. Heras thoughts. I cannot help but think of the 2003 Tour and remember Mr. Heras suffering more than Lance ever did. Rubiera and Beltran were Lance’s main helpers. I do not think Lance will have a thing to be concerned about from Mr. Heras.

Philip Shepherd
Beachwood, NJ

Heras will do well, but won’t win
It is great news that Roberto Heras has gotten the opportunity to ride for himself and earn some of the big bucks. I personally think he is a great rider and a great guy. I doubt there are any hard feelings from Lance or U.S. Postal.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Winning the Vuelta is not winning the Tour. It’s a great race with plenty of tough climbing, but the field is nowhere near the pinnacle as in the Tour. No Armstrong, no Ullrich, no Hamilton, no Mayo, no Vinokourov, etc.

As for the heart and soul of Postal, it’s never been Heras. Ask any of the experts and they will tell you George Hincapie is the glue that holds these guys together in support of Lance. As for the climbing support, Beltran and Rubiera showed up in top form this year. Heras was clearly saving himself for the Vuelta.

What does all of this mean? 2004 will be fantastic and Heras will prove himself worthy of a podium finish. It just won’t be the top step. Lance finds redemption, shocks the world, and easily wins No. 6! How’s that sound?

Drew Pearce
Greenville, SC (home of George Hincapie)

How does that sound? Send your thoughts, opinions and sore-throated shout-outs to Remember to include your NAME, CITY and STATE. (And a couple of fresh topics would be a nice change, too.)

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.