Menchov pleased with form in Romandie, on course for Tour de France
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Menchov pleased with form in Romandie, on course for Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 8:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Tour of Romandie
 

Last year Denis Menchov was making final preparation for what would be a winning ride in the Giro d’Italia; twelve months on, he’s just finished third overall in the Tour de Romandie and feels happy with his condition. He’s going to give the Italian tour a miss this time round, prompted no doubt by his collapse in last year’s Tour de France, and has built up more slowly. Third in Romandie is, he feels, a very positive sign that he is moving in the right direction.

“I still don’t have my top form, but it was reasonable. I am satisfied,” he said on the team’s website. “It was difficult to win here. Valverde is in very good shape and I'm pretty good, but far from super. Basically I’m okay and that's enough to finish near Valverde. But that's not bad. For me it was important to test myself and things went well in the last three days. Every day went better. There is progress, as there should be.”

Menchov showed good condition at the beginning of March when he was second overall in the Vuelta a Murcia. Ninth in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon was followed by 47th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, then he headed to Switzerland for this latest race. There he placed fifth in the time trial, 14th on Saturday’s mountain stage and then fourth yesterday.

He ended up 21 seconds behind Valverde in the final general classification, and ten off the total of runner-up Simon Spilak (Lampre). Contrasting that with eleventh last season, it’s clear that he is riding very strongly for a rider who is not yet aiming for his top form.

"In 2009 I was very close to a peak at this stage. It was right before the Giro and I wanted to reach my maximum condition,” he said. “Now the peak is much further off and at this stage of the training you don’t want to build further than I have now. Romandie fits perfectly in there. And third is actually quite good. I am very satisfied.”

He admitted to working hard to get the result, though. “I gave my maximum. Everything I have. The whole team, as a matter of fact, because they went very well in the two mountain stages this weekend. The boys have worked very well. The last day was also very tough. I had to give everything to remain in the front group and again in the finale to keep the chasers at back. That was my maximum. I couldn’t give more.”

Next up is a break for him; he is passing up the chance to go and do reconnaissance of Tour de France climbs with team-mates Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam. He said that it’s not possible to take on a trip like that – plus the heavy workload of training in the mountains – right after digging deep in Romandie.

I’ll take a week’s holiday and then I’ll go for a few days in the Pyrenees during the first part of the Giro,” he said. “Maybe with Juanma Garate [Jose Manuel Garate]. I’ll also explore the Alpine stages later. The Dauphiné is the last major preparation race. I must be better than in this race, but that will be fine.”

Menchov’s best finish in the Tour de France was fourth overall in 2008, although Bernhard Kohl finished ahead of him and was subsequently disqualified. He placed fifth in 2006 and won stage 11.

Last year he didn’t recover in time after the Giro and flopped, placing only 51st in Paris. His restructured racing programme is designed to avoid that this time round, and he’ll be aiming for a podium position or better.

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