In spite of its ten summit finishes, Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan) believes that the route of the 2012 Vuelta a España was tough but not excessively so. Climbs like Mirador de Ézaro, Cuitu Negru and Bola del Mundo saw riders slow to a snail’s pace on slopes touching 30%, but Monfort felt that, on balance, the Vuelta route was “reasonable.”
“The last week was very hard, but all told it was a reasonable Grand Tour, let’s say,” Monfort told La Dernière Heure. “We didn’t race the first two weeks at a very high rhythm. On the other hand, the final week was raced at a crazy speed. But in terms of the route, sure, there were some really hard climbs but it’s sometimes more difficult to ride fast on a 7% gradient than it is to climb up a really steep slope.”
Monfort admitted that he was disappointed by his own performance, as he finished in 16th place in Madrid. 6th overall last season, the Belgian had hoped to come closer to matching that feat.
“I set off with the aim of finishing in the top ten of the Vuelta a España again and I didn’t realise my objective, so I am disappointed,” Monfort said. “I thought I was well-set to finishing in the top ten and that I was going to gain in power as the race went on, but that wasn’t the case.”
After battling to 16th place overall at the Tour de France in July, Monfort began to feel the strain in the second half of the Vuelta. He believes that riders who had not raced in pursuit of the general classification at the Tour were noticeably fresher in the finale of the Vuelta.
“I was missing a bit of freshness in the final week of the Vuelta, like [Chris] Froome and [Nicolas] Roche,” he said. “On top of that, the level of this Vuelta was very high and I had been sick during the Tour. But I’m not looking for an excuse – even with a bit more luck, I don’t think I could have done any better than 12th or 13th.”
The day after the Vuelta concluded, Monfort learned that he had not been selected for the world championships in Valkenburg, and he is now considering calling a halt to his season rather than continuing to the Tour of Lombardy as initially planned. “I don’t know if it’s worth training three weeks for the Tour of Lombardy, but I’m going to talk about it with my team before taking my decision.”