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Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
By Les Clarke After a hot and arduous first ten days of the Vuelta, riders get to enjoy a...
By Les Clarke
After a hot and arduous first ten days of the Vuelta, riders get to enjoy a much-anticipated rest day. Overall contenders have raised their hands to be counted, including Francisco Mancebo, Denis Menchov, Roberto Heras and Carlos Sastre. Alessandro Petacchi has shown that skipping the Tour doesn't harm your ability to win stages, and Brad McGee spent four days in gold, becoming the only Australian to wear the leader's jersey in the three grand tours.
Rabobank's Denis Menchov and three-time Vuelta champion Roberto Heras, however, are looking like the men to beat, and after a victories in both time trials for Menchov and a win on stage 6 for Heras, it appears the battle will be between the little Spanish climbing ace and the Russian surprise packet. But maybe we're jumping the gun a little! Heras will certainly have his hands full if he wants to take a fourth Vuelta, with the likes of Menchov and Mancebo keeping him company on these early climbing stages, as seen on stage 10, where Mancebo rode a strong stage to take the win.
But with Beloki and Scarponi working well for Heras during the stage to the ski station at Ordino Arcalis, last year's winner is definitely the man to beat - again. And with riders such as Floyd Landis, Iban Mayo, Isidro Nozal, Aitor Osa and Angel Luis Casero abandoning the race, it could be a case of surprise or confirmation of greatness for the winner of this year's Vuelta.
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