Rabobank rues misfortune of Menchov and Freire
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Rabobank rues misfortune of Menchov and Freire

by Conal Andrews at 7:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dutch team’s two big stars fail to shine thus far

Denis MenchovThe Rabobank team went to the Vuelta a España with high hopes but thus far, things have not gone to plan for its two top riders, Denis Menchov and Oscar Freire. Menchov is sitting 20th, three minutes 29 seconds off the red jersey of Igor Anton and, barring a extraordinary turn-around, appears to have no chance of winning his third Vuelta.

Freire is one of the fastest riders in the bunch and is using the race to prepare for the world road race championships, where he will aim for a record fourth win. However he too has been unable to shine, with eleventh on stage five being his only placing inside the top 50.

The two have been struggling with different problems; Menchov crashed on Saturday and suffered a hard knock, while Freire has had breathing difficulties. Last month he had an operation to remove nasal polyps and it was hoped that this would rectify the issue, but it has persisted.

Team manager Adri van Houwelingen spoke about both, saying first that he regrets what happened to Menchov. “It is, of course, not good that he [Menchov] has to take painkillers. However after a few hours he is suffering a lot,” he said. “It is not really the abrasions that are a concern, but more the effects of the blow. He stopped but was hit from behind and really thrown against the ground.”

He is glad that there is a rest day today, giving the rider a chance to heal up a little before heading towards the big mountains. “For Denis, this [the rest day] is indeed good. Now we need to take care of him as much as possible and see how this develops. But the doctor said that there is fluid on the knee and that is obviously not a good thing.”

He said that he was hoping that the rest of the team can continue to build their form. That number includes Freire, who is clearly worried about his condition heading towards the worlds. “It is not very reassuring,” said van Houwelingen to Het Nieuwsblad. However, he knows that of all the riders in the bunch, the Spaniard is the one who can bounce back unexpectedly. “Fortunately, it is Freire. He can suddenly improve.”


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