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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) after the finish of stage 6 in Gueugnon.
Nothing to lose for Rabobank's Russian
Rabobank technical director Erik Breukink has suggested that 2005 and '07 Vuelta a España winner Denis Menchov could return to the Spanish Grand Tour following his third place overall in the Tour de France.
The stoic Russian has nothing to lose by starting the Vuelta, according to Breukink, after Menchov rode a consistent Tour to finish on the podium in Paris for the first time in his career.
While he admitted that it's too early to make an announcement concerning Menchov's possible second Grand Tour start of 2010, the signs are encouraging. "We must first see how he recovers from this tour, because it was still an extremely difficult tour, but the morale will be good," he said.
According to Breukink, the key to Menchov's success in France was his freshness, given that he didn't ride the Giro d'Italia, unlike in 2009, when he won the Italian event but faded during July. It also means that he'll possibly carry the form that saw him convincingly beat Samuel Sanchez for the remaining podium spot into the Vuelta.
"We had him starting [the Tour] fresh, as it didn't seem clever to race [before the Tour] given the experience of 2009 when he had a brilliant Giro win but then came short in the Tour. The Vuelta is now [a possibility] because the main goal, a top finish in the Tour, has been achieved. There isn't much to lose," he said.
And while the Russian's contract negotitations aren't far off, Breukink was giving nothing away as to the likelihood of keeping the 32-year-old at the Dutch outfit. Speculation is rife in the Dutch media that Rabobank will release Menchov, the talk spreading just a day after he secured the team's first appearance on the podium since Oscar Freire's green jersey triumph in 2008.
In the meantime, the team will turn its attention to the Clasica San Sebastian this Saturday, with Robert Gesink, who managed sixth overall at the Tour, joining Menchov for the Spanish ProTour race.