Giro champ crumbles in first Tour test
Rabobank's Denis Menchov, winner of the 2009 Giro d'Italia, lost precious time in the opening time trial of the Tour de France in Monaco, on Saturday. Compared to his main rivals for the overall classification, the Russian was the biggest loser of the day, as he finished in 53rd position, 1:31 down on the stage winner, Fabian Cancellara, with the Swiss rider even catching him before the finish.
Knowing Menchov's excellent time trial abilities, observers wondered if the Russian had a mechanical problem, but according to Rabobank's press officer Luuc Eisenga, the rider just "had a bad day, that can happen to anyone."
However it wasn't just Cancellara who put significant time into Menchov. The Giro champ lost 1:13 minutes on Alberto Contador (Astana), the race favourite, 1:08 on Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and 1:01 on Contador's teammate Levi Leipheimer.
"Menchov hasn't raced for one month, and couldn't find his rhythm on the parcours," Eisenga told Cyclingnews. Losing around one minute on his main rivals on a 15.5km parcours could be an indication that the Giro and Vuelta winner may not be at the top of his form at this year's Tour. Then again, as Cadel Evans pointed out, "it's only 15 kilometres, and a much longer way to Paris..."