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Menchov, Freire lead Rabobank at Tour

Denis Menchov will lead the Rabobank squad at the Tour de France, a team which also features three-time World Champion Oscar Freire for the sprint stages. Young Dutch rider Thomas Dekker was not nominated for the squad.

Dekker was uncertain of his place on the team after a poor performance at the recent Tour de Suisse. Dekker explained to de Telgraaf that he believed his form was on the way back up after his poor showing in Switzerland, which the rider attributed to a cold he contracted while training in bad weather in the Alps.

"But during a training ride in Tuscany on Monday I felt my old self again," said Dekker. "Last year, I showed that I am capable of working hard for the team in the mountains.

"If Menchov is in a good position, then I am sure that I would be worth a lot to him," Dekker said feeling certain of his Tour participation before the squad was announced.

Dekker's team director Erik Breukink had other ideas opting to leave the popular Dutchman at home and taking an in form Laurens ten Dam in his place. "We have chosen the nine riders who are currently the best," he explained. "His results in the Tour de Suisse, where Dekker himself said he was unsure of his form was what prompted us [to not select him]."

For 2008 the Rabobank management decided to change tactics from previous year for the 30 year-old Russian. Before winning the Vuelta a España in 2005 and 2007, Menchov rode the Tour de France. His results indicate that he has consistently performed better in his second Grand Tour of the season, which prompted the Dutch squad to use the Giro d'Italia as his warm-up race for the 2008 Tour de France.

Menchov's best result in the Tour was a sixth place in 2006.

Rabobank for the 2008 Tour de France: Denis Menchov, Laurens ten Dam, Pieter Weening, Oscar Freire, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sebastian Langeveld, Koos Moerenhout, Bram Tankink and Joost Posthuma.

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