Joxean Matxin Fernandez has to figure out how to divide three Grand Tours between his two captains and he may even want to use a third rider as captain in one of those three-week races. The team manager of what will be known as Geox-TMC in 2011 is ready to take on the challenge, as he juggles the demands of Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana winner Denis Menchov and Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre.
Sastre looks set to take on all three Grand Tours, as he did this year. "I talked to both after the presentation of the Tour and we are considering the possibility that Carlos can participate in the three Grand Tours, which is complicated but Sastre has done it before and knows how to deal with it,” Matxin told the Spanish website ESPN Deportes.
Looking at the two major tour routes announced to date, Fernandez believes that the balance between time trials and mountain stages means that Denis Menchov can attempt to double up. “I think the Giro and Tour combination is perfectly adaptable to the characteristics of Denis,” he said.
Sastre would most likely be the captain at the Vuelta, but Matxin admits that there is another possibility, newcomer David Blanco, who he describes as “a veteran who has not been valued enough after getting four titles in the Tour of Portugal.” Blanco, 35, won both the Vuelta ao Alentejo and the Tour of Portugal this year for Team Palmeiras Resort-Prio-Tavira.
Matxin has spent a lot of time with Blanco in Mexico, where both were in attendance at the Criterium a Chihuahua. “This trip to Mexico has given me the opportunity to get to know him much more on another level, I was pleasantly surprised by the vision he has, how professional he is and the seriousness of his goals. He's the kind of rider who sacrifices himself for what he wants and works really hard and the final result always comes. "
But no matter which race the team rides and who the captain is, the ambition is plain. "Winning, that's the clear objective,” Fernandez said and he will carefully juggle his line-ups so that everyone has their turn.
“We want to make our plans so that at different times of the season, the riders who have been helpers will also have a time of year in which they have the chance to win.”