Denis Menchov couldn't keep up with the leading favourites on Saturday's climb to the finish at Alpe d'Huez in the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Rabobank rider finished nine and a half minutes down but his team management refused to worry about his performance and form as the Tour de France begins to near.
"It was a shame that Denis could not follow, but it does not change the good things we'll take from this race,” said directeur sportif Frans Maassen. “He'll go away with a lot more confidence than he started with."
The Russian had two goals going into the Critérium du Dauphiné: “A test in the long time trial and a test in a mountain stage,” Maassen said. Menchov finished fifth in the 49 km time trial, ahead of Contador, and was only 23 seconds down in the first mountain stage the following day.
Menchov tried to go with Contador's initial attacks on the Alpe d'Huez but had to let him go. “It was 10 kilometres from the finish, Denis saw he couldn't do it, so he just let it go,” said Maassen. He called the decision “sensible,” because Menchov was not in the race to get an overall result.
After the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Russian will have “a few weeks to recuperate and do altitude training," Maassen said. "That should be just enough to get into a good form for the start of the Tour. He doesn't doubt that. He will end this race relaxed. That is what we have gained from the Dauphine.”