Heading into the last week of racing, Maxime Monfort has overtaken his team leader Jakob Fuglsang at the Vuelta a España. The Belgian Leopard Trek rider now sits in fifth overall place after he finished eighth on Sunday's mythical stage to the summit of the Angliru - a dreadful climb that held its promises.
Monfort limited his losses on the ascent that saw other GC contenders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) seriously struggle and lose time. Having never ridden the climb before, the Belgian decided to tackle it conservatively, and his tactics paid off. "I was quite afraid of the Angliru, which I didn't know at all," Monfort told Nieuwsblad. "Normally, this sort of steep col is not my thing. So I chose to ride it at my own rhythm. Near the top, I caught quite a lot of riders this way."
After this performance, the 28-year-old will work to maintain his placing, albeit without much hope of improving it. "I wouldn't say 'no' to a Vuelta podium," he admitted. "But I have to be realistic. Cobo [the current overall leader - ed.] is impressive and the Froome-Wiggins tandem is also very good. There's not a lot of room left." Moreover, fourth-placed Bauke Mollema from Rabobank will also have his say.
But Monfort will still be happy with a top 10 placing in Madrid one week from now. "That was also my goal at the start in Benidorm. In principle, the final week is less hard than the first two weeks, but the peloton has also become very tired. My impression is that I'm one of the fresher riders here. So it looks like a top 10 placing is possible."