By Brecht Decaluwé in Argelès-Gazost (Hautacam), France
After ten days of racing in the Tour de France, the top five of the general classification is still within a range of one minute, and Denis Menchov is the rider just inside that margin, 57 seconds behind new overall leader Cadel Evans. After the finish on Hautacam a relaxed Menchov talked to Cyclingnews and said that Fränk Schleck had become a problem now that he was in contention for the yellow jersey.
"It's not only between Evans and me," Menchov said. "Of course Sastre is OK too, but the problem is Schleck. He's in the game as well." Menchov, a Russian who rides for the Dutch Rabobank team, was surprised by the move from the CSC-Saxo Bank team. The Danish team had Cancellara in the breakaway and they started pulling in the peloton right from the bottom of the Col du Tourmalet.
On the climb to Hautacam CSC went on the attack with Carlos Sastre and eventually got Fränk Schleck away. "It's a little bit strange [what CSC did]," Menchov said. "Well, it's not really strange since CSC had to try. In the end it worked out well for them."
Menchov worked together with Cadel Evans to keep the gap on Schleck and the Saunier-Duval duo under control, forming an unusual alliance rather than taking the opportunity to attack Evans. "Finally not," Menchov sighed. "The situation in the race was what it was. The favourites were looking at each other since the breakaway was gone and in the final part of the climb it wasn't hard enough to attack." Menchov didn't think the Australian looked like he was in trouble. "I think Evans was OK."