So as you all know, Isidro Nozal was one of the breakout new riders from Spain last year, finishing 2nd in the Vuelta after winning 2 stages and wearing the leader’s jersey for most of the race. He showed an incredible determination right up to the end to win the race, but was outdone on the last day by his new teammate Roberto Heras. So how is this year’s Vuelta treating Isidro?
PEZ: This year the team has the number one and the number two riders of the 2003 Vuelta. Are you sharing the role as leader with Roberto Heras or strictly working for him?
Isidro Nozal: My job this year is to be at the front and ride well. However, by being there that means if Roberto needs help, it’s my job to do what’s necessary. He is the team leader.
PEZ: Are you happy to ride the Vuelta this year in this type of role? Is it less pressure?
IN: Yes, I’m fine with this role. For me having someone on the team win is as good as if I win. Less pressure? Not really, except maybe if you are comparing it to the last week of the 2003 Vuelta!
PEZ: What differences do you notice between Liberty Seguros and last year’s ONCE team?
IN: The color of the jersey! No, seriously, there aren’t that many changes. The management structure is mostly the same. I always liked riding for the ONCE-Eroski team and they told me going into this year that there would be minimal changes, so I was very happy with that.
PEZ: Have you learned anything one thing from Roberto’s experience with U.S. Postal that has been important to you and your growth as a rider?
IN: No, not really. My job is the same. I’ve worked with Manolo for a while now and he knows what he’s doing.
PEZ: After today (Stage 10) you’re 4th and Roberto is 5th in the G.C. Is the team happy with how you are progressing since the opening TTT?
IN: Yes, they are very happy with us. The whole team is riding well now and there is a lot of racing yet until Vuelta is over. Roberto and I are in a good position without being too far up.
PEZ: You’ve done a lot of work in the past couple of days. Are you looking forward to the rest day on Wednesday?
IN: Yes and no. I’m looking forward to the rest day because I’m starting to get a little tired and a day off will help me recharge. No because if there weren’t rest days, the race would be over that much sooner! Tomorrow after the race, we’ll go by bus to Almerнa and spend Wednesday there. We’ll probably do a couple hours easy on the bike to keep the legs loose.
PEZ: How did you feel about your result the other day in the time trial? Did you feel as good as last year?
IN: I was happy with it, even though I didn’t win. I definitely felt as good as last year, but I had some tough rivals this year. Hamilton, Landis, and Peсa are all very good time trialists.
PEZ: Have you heard that U.S. Postal claims they are not all that interested in the overall in this Vuelta? Do you believe them?
IN: No, I haven’t heard that. I haven’t really read anything in the news about the Vuelta or what other teams are saying. I’d be surprised though if they weren’t going for the overall, as I think the teams should come here with that goal.
PEZ: What are your real intentions for this Vuelta? I know you said you’re working for Roberto, but what does Isidro Nozal really want from this Vuelta?
IN: I just want someone from out team to win, whether it’s Roberto, Igor, Marcos, etc. or me.
PEZ: Ok, one last question. I saw today that you were selected to the Spanish team for the World Championships. How does that make you feel? Does it give you any kind of confidence boost for the rest of the Vuelta?
IN: Well, I’m obviously very happy about it. It doesn’t really change anything for me in the Vuelta though and honestly I won’t really start to think about Worlds until after the last Sunday of the Vuelta.
At that point, we wrapped up the conversation because it was almost 11pm and, as we all know sleep is very important when riding a stage race. As one can tell Isidro is a real team player. Most guys to be in his position would probably feel like they are being held back. However, he takes it in stride and is genuinely interested in the good of the team above all. Thanks again Isidro and good luck!