Two-time Vuelta winner Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) believes that stage 10's time trial around Salamanca hasn't ruled out any of the GC contenders and says the race is still wide open as the riders make use of the first rest day on Tuesday.
Menchov posted a mediocre time, 2:19 down on stage winner Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) over a course that suited the Russian. Despite the time difference to the stage winner, Menchov still sits within striking distance of a top-five place overall, 2:35 down on race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"I'm happy more for the way I was feeling during the trial than for the result I achieved," said Menchov.
"A time trial can go either way, but for the distance of a three week race it's your physical shape that can make a difference, and I feel like I'm in good shape. The possibilities to get a good result in this Vuelta haven't changed compared to the first day of the race and for the final victory the rivals are all still really close. I'd say the time trial hasn't taken anybody out of the game."
Menchov came into the time trial looking to prove how serious his credentials were as an overall threat in the race. With today's time trial the only significant chance he had of distancing the pure climbers he will surely see today's result as a missed opportunity.
With the mountainous parcours remaining the Russian may find himself turning into a domestique deluxe for Juan Jose Cobo. The Spaniard lost more time than Menchov over the 47km course but sits 1:47 off the lead and is the team's best place rider on GC.
"Before starting I would have given anything for this result," Cobo said at the finish of the time trial.
"I didn't lose more than two minutes from the favourites but overall when I finished the test with no problems I was feeling really good and positive that I had given it 100 per cent. At this moment I'm definitely well placed in the standings but I don't feel right saying that I'm the Geox-TMC leader.
"Rather I'm going to continue to be of service to the team to try and obtain the maximum result from this Vuelta."
One Geox rider who won't be competed for a GC position is Carlos Sastre. The 2008 Tour de France winner has looked off the pace throughout this year's race and sits in 28th place overall 6:48 down on Froome.
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