While his debut in the Vuelta a España didn't approach the sixth place overall he achieved in both the Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré, Saxo Bank's Jakob Fuglsang is satisfied with his Grand Tour debut.
"I am happy, it was well done. I don't think I can be disappointed with my Tour," the friendly Dane told Cyclingnews at the race's finish in Madrid. "Three times I was in a breakaway, and three times I had the possibility to win a stage. I didn't succeed, but still to be three times in the top three in my first Grand Tour - I am really happy with that."
The 24-year-old took the first of those placings when he was third on stage 10 to Murcia, then went on to net a fine second behind Damiano Cunego (Lampre) at La Pandera and then third in Avila last Thursday. He ended the three week Vuelta 56th overall.
Importantly, he came to the finish feeling like his form was on the up. "I felt a lot better this week. After stage 11 and 12 I was dead. If somebody said ‘okay, you can go home now,' I would have taken the offer and done it. But I am really happy that I continued until the end. I was feeling better and better the last days. It has been really good.
"Everybody tells me doing a Grand Tour makes a difference to you as a rider. I hope they are right because it would be nice to have that little bit extra. If so, I think it is worth it. I think it really helps."
For the riders in the Vuelta, a big question centres around how they will recover from the race, and if they will be fatigued or at their top form for the world championships. Many contenders pulled out before the finish in order to ensure they are fresh, while others such as Fuglsang, Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and, of course, race winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) were fully committed until the end.
Fuglsang's good sensations in the final week make him believe that he will be fine. "I think I should be okay," he said. "There is still a week. If you were getting more and more tired in the last few days, if you were really exhausted now, then you probably would have a problem. But the way I am feeling now, I am confident."
He will line up in the road race alongside several other Danish riders, including last year's bronze medallist Matti Breschel. He said that leadership will be shared between the two of them, with whoever is strongest on the day likely to get the support of the other riders.
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