Refreshed, albeit after a frustrating stint at Geox-TMC, Denis Menchov is ready to move forward with Katusha saying that he's more eager than ever before to step onto the podium on the Champs Elysees at the conclusion of the Tour de France.
Katusha General Manager Hans-Michael Holczer, also in his first season with the Russian outfit, believes that Menchov is the right man for the result.
"In my 10 years with Gerolsteiner we never had a Tour winner so if Menchov wins in my first year with Katusha, I promise to walk all the way from Paris to Moscow," he told Reuters with the Russian's best result a third overall in 2010.
The 2012 edition of the Tour de France will be Menchov's 11th attempt at the grand boucle having been forced to watch the 2011 race, won by Cadel Evans (BMC) on television. Menchov chooses to take a positive stance on his absence.
"I had a chance to watch the race from the outside, analyse it," Menchov told Reuters. "It has given me a different perspective on the race. Not being part of the Tour last year definitely made me more determined to try to win it."
Having won both the Vuelta a Espana (2007) and the Giro d'Italia (2009), the Tour de France is the obvious omission from Menchov's palmares while the man himself admits it's the "toughest" of the three grand tours to win.
Now 34, Menchov says that with experience has come self-education about the best way for him to approach the Tour and believes that his best chance to win the general classification will come with a relaxed opening week, followed by taking on the mountains at his own pace.
"Every rider, except maybe Contador or [Lance] Armstrong in his prime, have their strength and weaknesses," he explained. "[Andy] Schleck, for example, knows he's not as strong in the time trial so he must attack in the mountains to have a chance.
"As for myself, I usually do well in time trials so in the mountains I can afford to sit back and wait for my chances. You must be patient on the climbs and I've learned how to pace myself over the years. It comes with experience," he added.
"When I was younger I might have panicked if I was dropped on a big climb. Now I know you can get it back the next day."
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