The Rabobank Cycling team has announced on Thursday that both Denis Menchov and Bram De Groot have extended their contracts through 2008. The Dutch rider has been with the orange squad for eight years already, while the Russian joined the outfit last season and won the first Grand Tour for Rabobank, the Vuelta a España.
"Keeping Denis aboard is a tremendous piece of good luck," said manager Theo de Rooij. "There are not too many guys out there who can win one of the three major tours. For our team it was very important to have and to keep a rider with such qualities on the team. We are not the kind of team to pay the highest prices. So, when Denis makes the choice for Rabobank, it says a lot about the way we closely work together."
Later during the day, as media reports suggested that Menchov was one of the riders implicated in the Spanish doping network revealed by Operación Puerto, De Rooij added that "There is a clause in his contract which addresses an implication in this affair. But Denis guaranteed to us that he has nothing to do with it."
De Rooij was also happy to secure the services of Bram De Groot for another two seasons. "Next year’s team is already getting shape," he continued. "A guy like Bram de Groot fits like a glove in our team. You have to love him, once you see him out there: always attacking, always in the break-away. That’s how we like it! Beside that, Bram is a great teammate, who will do whatever he is asked to do. I’m happy that we have been able to keep another top class Dutch rider aboard for a longer period of time."
While Menchov has already two victories of the Vuelta on his palmarès, De Groot is one of the very few riders to have won national championships in cyclo-cross (1995), ATB (1995) and road racing (1998).