Rabobank Directeur Sportif Erik Breukink was delighted Wednesday evening, after Oscar Freire won his second stage at the Vuelta a España and Denis Menchov successfully defended his second position overall. "There is probably going to be champagne on the table again tonight," he said.
On the team's website, rabobank.nl, Breukink said, "When you start this tour with a sprinter like Oscar and with the objective to win at least one stage, and you already win two after five days of racing, and you also ride around in the leader's jersey for a couple of days, I think a substantial number of your goals have been accomplished."
He is also pleased with Menchov's performance, as well as that of the whole team, saying "Denis is doing really well. Additionally the team is also making a very strong impression. That gives a lot of confidence. Also because of Oscar's victories; that also takes some pressure off this team."
The team's priority remains the overall classification. "First and foremost, we must protect Denis Menchov until the time trial in Zaragoza. And, if Oscar can find a way to claim another success that would just be a great extra prize."
Meanwhile, Freire seems to be turning into a mountain-climbing sprinter. "Oscar showed more signs of fear for the second-category climbs, than for that final first-category ascent. 'If I can conquer those, I will have a chance to win,' he said. And those words proved prophetic. Nevertheless, the team still had to work hard in order to hunt down Karsten Kroon, because he was riding a very strong finale. Oscar kept saying that the gap with the escapees had to be minimized to less than two minutes on the top of the final climb. We were able to do that."