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Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Russian star courted by Katusha
Denis Menchov is happy with his form ahead of the Tour de France after he clocked fifth place in the Dauphiné time trial in Sorgues. He moved up to 8th overall but confirmed that he’s not yet in top condition.
“I’m satisfied with my performance”, the Russian told Cyclingnews after completing the 49km long course in 1.02.46. “The time trial is always something important for me. I wanted to try the new equipment as well. I did it full gas. In one hour of solo effort, you can see where you are. I came to the Dauphiné to get the rhythm of the competition. I’ll use the coming stages in the mountains to improve my condition. The Tour is in three weeks. I’ll be OK by then.”
Menchov’s form was unknown since he pulled out of the Tour of Belgium after only 40 kilometres on stage 1. He also came down with bronchitis in May after finishing third at the Tour of Romandy, and eventually second behind Simon Spilak of Lampre following the disqualification of race winner Alejandro Valverde.
Rabobank didn’t allow Menchov to defend his title at the Giro d’Italia in May but he has been officially announced as Rabobank's co-captain for the Tour de France with Dutch up-and-coming climber Robert Gesink. “The start in Rotterdam is a big event for Dutch cycling and obviously Rabobank”, directeur sportif Frans Maassen told L’Equipe. “Denis is part of our image, we count on him.”
However it’s debatable how much longer Rabobank will count on Menchov as there is a new generation of Dutch climber coming up, with not only Gesink but also Lars Boom, Bauke Mollema and Steven Kruisjwijk. Menchov’s contract expires at the end of this year and Russian team Katusha is desperately looking for a Grand Tour contender.
“We’re definitely interested in hiring Menchov, shall he be willing to ride for us”, Katusha’s boss Andreï Tchmil told De Telegraaf. “He was approached two years ago but turned the offer down as we were a young new team.”
Menchov’s agent Raimondo Scimone confirmed to Cyclingnews that Menchov is on the market but not only Rabobank and Katusha are interested in his services for next year. “It’s up to Menchov himself to decide whether or not he wants to wait till the end of the Tour to decide which team to opt for.”