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Denis Menchov (Katusha Team)
Katusha man remains fifth overall after two solid days
Denis Menchov proved that his podium chances in this year's Tour de France were still on track after the first day in the mountains yesterday and he has underlined it today with another top ten finish in Sunday's eighth stage.
The Katusha leader was one of only a handful of riders able to keep pace with Sky on the final climb of stage 7 but eventually had to sit up inside the final 2 kilometres, losing 50 seconds. However, after a strong prologue and successful first week the double Vuelta winner started today's eighth stage less than a minute behind Bradley Wiggins.
"It wasn't bad [yesterday]. The general feelings are okay but that was just the first contact with the mountains. Those days are always strange in some ways. The final climb was perhaps a little bit too explosive for me but everyday is important in the Tour, not just yesterday but days like today. We're not on the podium places yet but we've had a good Tour in the first week," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 8 in Belfort.
In 2011 Menchov failed to replicate the form that helped secure him a podium in the 2010 Tour and the two wins in the Vuelta and a Giro crown. However the veteran all-rounder pointed to the final week in the Tour, when he often performs at his best.
"Normally yes, I get stronger as the race goes on but we've only had a week of racing so it's difficult to say. Sky did a really good job yesterday and showed that they're once again a really strong group."
Katusha's, Torsten Schmidt confirmed that the team were pleased with Menchov's form.
"We were really happy. The final climb yesterday wasn't perfect for Menchov and was steep. We saw yesterday that the guys like Froome, Wiggins, Nibali, Evans and Denis are there and they're all good in the time trials. We've all put our cards down but there's still two weeks to go and everything can have an impact and change things."
Menchov continued his solid start this afternoon on stage 8, once again finishing in the top ten on a day that featured no less than seven categorised climbs. He matched the times of both Wiggins and Evans and so remains 54 seconds behind in the general classification, in fifth place.