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Roberto Heras' Vuelta mountain guide
Around the Academy:

Roberto Heras
Heras' job was to pace Armstrong up Tour climbs
After winning his fifth consecutive Tour de France, Lance Armstrong singled out his team-mate Roberto Heras for special praise.

It was Heras who was responsible for coaxing Armstrong up the Tour's tougher ascents.

Where Armstrong went, on the whole, Heras was merely a bike's length ahead.

For three years the little Spaniard, who has the ability to win the Tour de France himself, put his own ambitions to the side to shepherd Armstrong through the mountains.

But now Heras is taking over the mantle of team leader after leaving US Postal for Spanish outfit Liberty Seguros.

So from trusted helper the 30-year-old was tipped to be one of Lance Armstrong's biggest foes as the American went for an unprecedented sixth Tour victory in 2004!

It didn't quite work out for the Spaniard in 2004 as he pulled out of the race after stage 16 due to lack of fitness.

But triumphed again in his home race, the 2004 Vuelta a Espana, which he also won in 2000 and 2003.

Heras is regarded as arguably the best climber in the world and here he unveils his top-five secrets to cracking the toughest climbs in the world of road racing.



Roberto Heras


1. Training: Almost more important than the climb itself, is the preparation you put in place to crack a mountain.

As a cyclist you always need to train hard but, when it comes to the mountains, that training is even more specialist.

In the build-up to the Vuelta you have to ensure you know these climbs well and also carry out training at altitude to increase your lung capacity and your ability to challenge.

2. Team-mates: Climbing may be one of the most selfish disciplines. If you want to do well, you often have to go it alone.

But before you do that, your team-mates are so crucial to helping you get in that position.

Without them your energy is already spent before you have that chance to put in the final heave.

3. Determination: Cracking the likes of L'Alpe d'Huez or the steep climbs of the Pyrenees is about as hard as it gets.

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong's rhythm is key to his climbing

And as a result there are some moments where your body is telling you it cannot go on anymore.

But that's where the determination comes in.

You just have to grit your teeth and focus on getting yourself to the finish.

4. Rhythm: You only need to look at the pedalling of Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France and Miguel Indurain before him to realise how important this is.

Lance keeps a steady pace throughout the mountains, which does as little damage to his body as possible.

Then he is able to unleash that final push towards the end as the others all fall apart.

5. Enjoyment: It may seem hard to believe to people who watch us as we grimace all the way up to a mountain.

But there are few things more satisfying than cracking a good climb.

If you manage to avoid it beating you, you feel on top of the world.

This is my guide to getting the better of the Tour de France mountains. Follow these tips to become the next big climber.


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Did you know?
In the last six years Roberto Heras has finished first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth at his home country's tour.

Roberto facts
Born: 01.02.74
Team: Liberty Seguros
Height: 1.72m
Weight: 60kg
Vuelta a Espana: 2004 - 1st; 2003 - 1st; 2002 - 4th; 2001 - 2nd; 2000 - 1st; 1999 - 3rd; 1998 - 6th; 1997 - 5th
Tour de France: 2004 - DNF; 2003 - 34th; 2002 - 9th; 2001 - 15th; 2000 - 5th


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