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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Heras pledges Armstrong support
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Paris

Roberto Heras and Lance Armstrong
Heras and Armstrong- it is a team thing

Roberto Heras has promised to put his Tour de France ambitions on hold to help Lance Armstrong win a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey.

Heras was arguably the most crucial figure in Armstrong's fourth win, coaxing him up the toughest climbs in both the Pyrenees and Alps in 2002.

Last year, he had pledged to help his team leader first and foremost but always had the goal of a mountain stage in the back of his mind.

He failed in the second part of this objective and insisted from Saturday, when the race starts, he would only be thinking of Armstrong's ambitions.

My sole job is to spring into action in both the Pyrenees and the Alps and make sure I keep Lance company and make his life a lot easier
Roberto Heras

Heras told the BBC Sport website: "Everything I do in the next three weeks will involve me thinking about what's best for Lance first. I'll come second in my mind every time.

"My sole job is to spring into action in both the Pyrenees and the Alps and make sure I keep Lance company and make his life a lot easier."

Armstrong was quick to praise Heras throughout last year's Tour after the Spaniard continually stayed at the Texan's side.

George Hincapie and Jose Luis Rubiera initially led Armstrong up the climbs before the tougher ascents saw them fall away only for Heras to step forward.

Many suggest that, at another team, Heras would be a realistic contender to Armstrong's crown, as the only other rider consistently capable of matching his team-mate in the mountains.

But for now he is happy to keep his ambitions simple.

"This time around I'm not even thinking about a stage win," he continued.

"I help Lance in the Tour and the team then helps me in the Vuelta [Tour of Spain] - it's that simple.

"When people suggest I should go to another team I dismiss it. There's no better team than US Postal and here I can become part of history as Lance tries to make it five."





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VOTE RESULTS
Who is most likely to challenge Lance Armstrong this year?
Joseba Beloki
 12.50% 
Tyler Hamilton
 22.82% 
Jan Ullrich
 64.68% 
504 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

TOUR DE FRANCE 2003


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