Looking to Menchov and Garate in final week
Rabobank came into the Tour de France with high hopes of Denis Menchov making the final podium and Oscar Freire winning sprints. But two-thirds of the way through the race, Giro d'Italia winner Menchov is 5:02 minutes down in 29th place, and Freire's best finish was second in Barcelona.
Compounding their disappointing tour thus far, the Dutch team once again missed being in the successful escape group Saturday and it was little surprise that directeur sportif Erik Breukink told de Telegraaf, “I'm pretty pissed.”
“Today is just a big mistake and bad for us,” he said on the team's website, rabosport.nl. “In an escape of thirteen men, we just have to [be there].”
The lack of success leads to even more pressure on the riders acknowledged Breukink: “You could see it again today. They are not riding relaxed, but anxiously and wanting to force too much.”
If Freire had won in Barcelona “the pressure would have been completely gone.” But Thor Hushovd of Cervelo TestTeam proved stronger than the former world champion on the climb to the finish line in Spain.
As there are only two more stages in this year's Tour suited to Freire, the team will now look to Menchov and Juan Manuel Garate. “The latter is riding well. That may be the good way to go.” Breukink not giving up on the Russian, though. “He makes a better impression now than at the beginning of the Tour. I think he is looking forward to the Alps.”
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