Last year's winner of the Vuelta a España, Rabobank's Denis Menchov, is not certain about his ability to defend his title at the Spanish Grand Tour, starting on Saturday, August 26. "I'd love to win the race, but the Vuelta is a secondary objective this year after the Tour and I don't feel as fresh this time," the Russian told Spanish newspaperMarca on Tuesday. Menchov finished sixth in this year's Tour de France.
"I believe I have a chance, but psychologically I don't feel as sharp and that always affects you physically, too," he added. The 28 year-old pointed to Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Alexandre Vinokourov and Iban Mayo as the main challengers for victory in Spain.
As to the course of the upcoming stage race, he commented, "The mountains will be the key. There are a lot at the start, not many in the middle and a lot at the end. The time trials are short and I don't think they will be decisive." Menchov also said that the profile of this year's Vuelta would lead to an early selection of the GC contenders.
"The early mountain stages will mean that, unlike this year's Tour, we will know who is in with a chance of winning from an early stage," he said.