Geox-TMC has named the squad that will support Denis Menchov in his bid to for a third Vuelta a España title. The Russian won the race in 2005 and 2007, and will be flanked by 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre this time around.
The new team suffered an early setback when it failed to secure a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France and Menchov and Sastre instead lined up at the Giro d’Italia. While Menchov struggled in the opening week in Italy, he finished strongly to secure eighth place overall, and he is confident that he will start the Vuelta in better condition.
“After the Giro d'Italia I underwent a structured training programme to prepare for the Vuelta, to get here in the best possible shape," Menchov said. "This is a race I really love, and in which I've already obtained two prestigious victories.”
Given his proven pedigree, Menchov will begin the race with the aim of wearing the red jersey into Madrid, although he acknowledged that the competition will be fierce over such an exacting route.
“Of course, I'm starting out with the objective of obtaining the maximum result, although it won't be easy,” Menchov said. “The route is gruelling and I'll be going up against some very competitive rivals. Fortunately, I'll be able to count on the support of some excellent riders. I think our squad is well equipped to put in a good race."
Chief among them is Carlos Sastre, who should form an intriguing tandem with Menchov in the high mountains. The Spaniard failed to make an impact at the Giro, but showed encouraging signs of form at the Tour of Austria, and his motivation is high for his home tour.
“I'm happy with the work we've done these last few weeks," said Sastre. "For me the Vuelta is a very important event. I feel like health is on my side compared with the first part of the season, when I had several problems. I've finally found the momentum I've been striving for, both in training and during races. This is essential for me to take on a three week race. I'm hoping I can close out the season in the best way possible."
Outside of Menchov and Sastre, the Geox-TMC line-up also includes exciting Colombian talent Fabio Duarte and Spanish riders David Blanco, David De La Fuente and Juan José Cobo.
“Juan Josè Cobo and David Blanco proved in the recent Vuelta a Burgos that they're in peak shape,” said directeur sportif Joxean Fernández Matxin. “And let's not forget Duarte, Ardila, Brandle and Kozontchuk, who will be tasked with supporting their captains and helping out when they can, or going for it and standing out when they get the chance."
Geox-TMC team for Vuelta a España: Mauricio Ardila, David Blanco, Matthias Brandle, Juan Josè Cobo, David De La Fuente, Fabio Duarte, Dimitry Kozontchuk, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre.