Kashechkin looks to the mountains

Kazakhstan champion Andrey Kashechkin believes he and his Astana team will do well in this Vuelta,...

Kazakhstan champion Andrey Kashechkin believes he and his Astana team will do well in this Vuelta, but most of all he is simply pleased to finally start a three-week race after his team was excluded from the Tour de France because the expulsion of riders implicated in Operacion Puerto left it with too few riders. "The best thing that I can say about these first stages is that we have taken the start. To do a three week race is always difficult, normally you do it only once per season and because of that we want to do a good Vuelta," he said in a team newsletter.

The parcours of the Vuelta, with hills early in the race, suits Kashechkin. "I like specially that there are mountain stages in the first week, not as in the Tour, where the first 10 days it is not possible to do a selection. Here, on the other hand, the selection will happen soon."

Kashechkin believes his form is good after the Tour of Germany, but he is not making and predictions. "I must wait for the mountains to know what I can do. I prefer to take things from day to day."

While he's cagey about his own chances, Kashechkin tips Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) as the "most important" favourites. As for his team-mate and countryman Alexandre Vinokourov, "he must also see how he is in the mountains."

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