By Antonio J. Salmerón
In what can only be a good sign for Denis Menchov's Giro d'Italia odds, the Russian showed excellent form during the recent Vuelta a Murcia. The result came despite Menchov heading into the event with low expectations.
The winner of the race's 29th edition showed from the first stage in San Pedro Lorca to the last that's he has great condition. "I didn't really prepare for this race," Menchov told Cyclingnews. "I trained like always, but perhaps this time a little less than usual.
"My performance in the Tour of Murcia was a mystery to me, just because I had competed before, but I didn't know exactly how well I could go," he said. "In the end, my team was very strong, and we won two stages with Graeme Brown. I also finished and felt very good, but still far from my best of form, which should arrive in May, during the Giro d'Italia," he explained.
Having helped Joost Posthuma to the Ruta del Sol crown last month, it was time for some reward of his own. Rabobank's big general classification hope for this season's Grand Tours was singing the praises of the race he'd just conquered. "It's a race that I like because its route is very comprehensive and it includes all types of terrain: a time trial, a mountain stage and a pair of flat stages, but with tough winds against you," he said.
"There's a tendency to post good times here, although the strong wind makes the race a lot tighter, especially in the time trial," he added.