A strong showing in the Salamanca time trial leaves Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) lying in second place overall as the Vuelta a España heads back into the mountains but the Dane has insisted that he is simply looking to limit his losses in the coming days.
Fuglsang is just 12 seconds off the overall lead of Chris Froome (Team Sky) after a string of consistent performances in the opening ten days of the race, which included a day in the red jersey after Leopard Trek’s victory in the opening team time trial.
“There is still a long way to Madrid. Some of the toughest mountain stages are still ahead, and I expect to lose time to the best climbers,” Fuglsang told Ekstra Bladet. “My goal is to minimise my loss of time. If I can lose just one minute on each of the four mountain finishes that are ahead of us, I’ll be satisfied.”
With three summit finishes in the next five days, Fuglsang is aware that the general classification could be turned on its head by the second rest day. In spite of his current lofty position on GC, therefore, Fuglsang is refusing to revise his pre-race ambitions upwards.
“The goal is still the top 10 and I have now put myself in a good position to achieve that goal,” he said.
“I’m quite aware that I can lose half an hour as easy as anything, if I go badly. However, it will be bad luck if it happens, and I really hope luck is on my side in this race.”
Monfort's Belgian revenge
Fuglsang’s Leopard Trek teammate Maxime Monfort was another solid performer in Monday’s time trial, as he took out his frustrations at not being given one of Belgium’s time trial berths at next month’s world championships.
“It’s a nice revenge,” Monfort told La Dernière Heure of his 10th place finish. “But I don’t have anything to prove to [Belgian national coach] Carlo Bomans, and I don’t want to think about Denmark anymore, I just want to focus on my Vuelta a España.”
Monfort is currently in 6th place overall, 59 seconds down on Froome. Like Fuglsang, the Belgian began the Vuelta aiming at a top ten finish in Madrid, and he is a little less cautious about his chances of achieving his goal.
“I began with the idea of a top ten place, but maybe I can do better,” Monfort said. “There are some guys who I can take ahead of me, but then you can’t forget that there are also some serious clients still in the race behind me. Nothing is decided, but it’s a very motivating situation.”
Monfort was also confident that his efforts would complement those of Fuglsang in the mountains in the coming days.
“At the start, I was free and Jakob was protected. Now we both find ourselves well-placed, we have a similar level in the mountains and we’re going to continue like that.”