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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
ONCE-Eroski
TEAM PROFILE
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano
Country: Spain
Team manager: Manolo Saiz
Team leader:
Chief lieutenant:
Best Tours: 2002 - Joseba Beloki second; 1995 - Alex Zulle second, Laurent Jalabert green jersey winner
ONCE did everything right in the 2002 Tour, apart from actually making Lance Armstrong crack.

Armstrong won the event by more than seven minutes, but again ONCE looked the next best with three riders in the top six.

Joseba Beloki was the leading Spanish rider for the overall classification in second place overall.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who wore yellow earlier in the race and finished fifth, and sixth-placed Jose Azevedo, also showed potential.

ONCE will have to make do without De Galdeano this time around after the Spaniard broke his collarbone in the Tour of Germany.

Beloki looks their best hope for the overall classification.

ONCE, as usual, boast stability at the team, having held onto most of their big teams in the closed season.

The team have done little changing since team boss Manolo Saiz had a massive clearout in 2001, getting rid of long-standing riders such as Laurent Jalabert.

It paid off with Beloki and Gonzalez de Galdeano shining in both of the last two Tours.

But the sponsors will be hungry for greater success and an end to the Armstrong hegemony.

Whether they can match that remains to be seen but there is evidence that the canny Saiz is concentrating resources on the Tour.

Other talents in the line-up include Marcos Antonio Serrano and Jorg Jaksche, who was 31st overall last time after impressing on many of the mountain stages.

Sainz is adamant his riders can do better this time around and win the only major race to have avoided them since their arrival in the sport.

As perennial runners-up, it is difficult to see how they can get the better of Armstrong and the US Postal train.





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