David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has said that his latest Vuelta a España king of the mountains title was perhaps his most keenly-contested, and he hinted that he will be return in 2012 in a bid to win a fifth consecutive crown.
The veteran Frenchman shored up the polka dot jersey on the road to Vitoria on Saturday, when his closest challenger Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale) failed to pick up any points on the final climbs of the race.
“I admit that I’m very proud of this achievement,” Moncoutié told L’Équipe. “It wasn’t easy this year either. Perhaps even more complicated than the three previous years. I managed it differently, and I was careful right to the end in trying not to use up too much energy in every stage.”
A rider capable of creating and taking his own opportunities, Moncoutié was able to count on the support of his Cofidis team this time around, and in particular Nico Sijmens, who repeatedly outsprinted Montaguti for points when the pair were in the winning break on the road to Noja on stage 18.
“It all went well, and my teammates, especially Sijmens, also contributed to this jersey,” Moncoutié said.
As well as winning the mountains prize in each of the past four Vueltas, Moncoutié has succeeded in taking a stage victory in every edition of the race since 2008. This time around, his success came at Estación de Montaña Manzaneda on stage 11. Although he also has two Tour de France stage wins in his palmares, unusually for a French rider, Moncoutié’s appears more at ease south of the Pyrenees.
“The Vuelta suits me perfectly,” Moncoutié said. “I’ve won a stage here every time. I’ve finished exhausted, but tactically it was perfect.”
Moncoutié recently confirmed that he will continue in the professional peloton for one more season, and while he is unlikely to return to the Tour de France, it seems likely that he will line up at the Vuelta in 2012 in a bid to equal José Luis Laguia’s record haul of five mountains titles at the race. “It’s a challenge that motivates me,” he said.