Menchov's ups and downs


Menchov (Image credit: AFP)

Going into the next-to-last stage of the Volta a Catalunya, Saturday, Rabobank's Denis Menchov was feeling confident about being able to make up the 16 seconds separating him from leader Vladimir Karpets and taking over the lead. He had just won the mountain time trial the previous day and was sure of his climbing abilities. But a crash and a broken bike brought all his plans to nothing.

About five kilometres before the end, the Russian was involved in a crash. He did not go down himself, but his bike suffered. Teammate Grischa Niermann immediately turned his bike over to his captain, but by then there was no chance for Menchov to catch back up with the fast moving peloton. He finished 28 seconds down, moving him to third overall behind T-Mobile's Michael Rogers.

"Second place is now the best feasible result," said Directeur Sportif Erik Breukink, and it almost happened. Menchov bounced bank in Sunday's short mountain stage, coming in second and picking up a four-second time bonus, which put him equal with Rogers. But Rogers had a one-one hundredths of a second advantage, and that was enough to give the Australian second and Menchov third.

Breukink was not disappointed. "Everything went well. We took home two great results: a victory in the mountain time trial, and a third place for Menchov in the general classification. Denis has shown that he is in good condition. And the guys that had just started racing again also did a very good job. They were able to find their rhythm; that is very important."

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