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Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Tour favourite says classification battle unfinished
Russia’s Denis Menchov has pledged to continue his fight to advance in the Tour de France’s overall classification. The Rabobank rider is 27th and five minutes behind after 11 days of racing.
"The situation is not good, but I am not stressed,” Menchov told Cyclingnews. “If I have good legs I will do something in the last week, if not, no problem."
Menchov lost 1:31 in the opening day's time trial in Monaco on July 4, then lost 41" to Armstrong in stage three, crashed in the team time trail and lost 1:02 minutes on the stage to Barcelona. He is 5:02 minutes behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini in the overall classification, 4:56 minutes behind Alberto Contador and 4:54 minutes behind Armstrong.
"The race is not how we expected, but we still have some hard stages to come,” said Menchov. “A stage win is not my goal, it is better if I can change my position in the general classification. Sure, I will take a stage win if there is a chance, but I am not going to try for escapes."
Despite saying today’s stage to Colmar will be tricky, Menchov doesn’t believe it will impact the overall classification. Sunday's stage to Verbier and Wednesday's stage to Le Grand-Bornand are the difficult days, according to Menchov. Time differences will also form on the final time trial and the penultimate day's stage to Mont Ventoux.
Menchov's relaxed attitude is in part due to his Giro d'Italia win in May. He won the Cinque Terre time trial and carried the race leader's jersey for the final nine days. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Carlos Sastre all finished behind him at the Giro, but just one month later the tables have turned.
The final Giro time trial in Rome almost cost Menchov the win and delayed his Tour preparations. He crashed in the closing kilometres on wet pavement, but despite injuring his hip finished the stage and won the race.
"My hip is not the same, but it is okay now. It took a long time to heal,” said Menchov. “I think at the beginning of the Tour I still had some problems because the muscles were still tense."
Menchov finished third in last year’s Tour and fifth in 2006. Menchov has won two of the three Grand Tours, with the Giro win joining his Vuelta a España victory in 2007.