David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has taken the monkey off his back as he claimed a third stage win at the Vuelta a España in three years and three participations. He was full of remorse in July when he watched the Tour de France he chose not to ride this year. The 35-year-old Frenchman realized how much he loves the world's biggest race about which he said he would never come back.
During the 2009 Vuelta a España he decided to ride again in 2010 in what was supposed to be the final year of his career. Moncoutié, however, has recently changed his mind and asked Cofidis to extend his contract for one more season so he could return to the Tour in 2011 although he's been eyeing retirement for more than a year already.
During today's stage eight of the Vuelta a España from Villena to Xorret del Cati, Moncoutié showed how much passion he still has for the sport even though he often showed up at races with a big lack of motivation since he turned pro - with Cofidis - back in 1997.
Cofidis was the only French team with no stage victories at the Tour de France this year. They got one at the Giro d'Italia with Damien Monier in May. Just after finishing second at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, Moncoutié failed to make his mark during the three weeks of the Italian Grand Tour but he told his management that he would act differently on Spanish roads.
"I had marked the stage to Xorret del Cati and the scenario has been exactly what I predicted although I don't have the polka dot jersey yet," said the French climber who wants to equal Julio Jimenez as the king of the mountains of the Vuelta three times in a row. The rider from Avilà did so in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
Moncoutié's triumph in the province of Alicante today has inspired the Frenchman to seek further stage victories. "I'm in a really good shape," he said. "At the start in Sevilla, I was afraid of the lack of race rhythm since I hadn't ridden the Tour de France. But now I'm convinced that being fresh will play to my advantage.
"The polka dot jersey remains my goal. I'll attack again for scoring points and trying to win another stage. Now that Xorret del Cati is done, I have stage 11 in mind. The uphill finish of Pal in Andorra inspires me. I'm curious to see what I can do against the big guns. I also heard of the prestigious Lakes of Covadonga (stage 15) but I don't know it at all."
Listening to Moncoutié, it seems like there is more to be seen from him in the next two weeks.