David Moncoutié will be aiming to equal Spanish rider Julio Jimenez and take a third king of the mountains title at this year's Vuelta a España, which begins in Seville this Saturday.
Jimenez, dubbed the "watchmaker from Avila" won the title in 1963, 1964 and 1965 whilst Moncoutié has taken it in the past two editions of the event.
"I would have liked to be the first man to do it", said Moncoutié. "I didn't know that Jimenez won it three times but it doesn't change anything in my motivation. I like this race where I usually find the conditions that suit me the best with a nice and hot weather. I'm very enthusiastic."
Moncoutié hopes that his 13th grand tour won't be his last, with the 35-year-old Frenchman deciding to remain in the pro ranks for another season. Events in 2010 didn't unfold as he'd have hoped, hence the decision to go for another year.
"My contract for 2011 isn't signed yet but I have an agreement with Cofidis", explained Moncontié. "I hope to come back to the Tour de France next year. That would be my 10th one.
"I wasn't brilliant at the Giro. Before the start I guessed that I wouldn't like that race and it was the case. I never feel good in May and the weather conditions were pretty bad all the way. Stages were long on curvy roads with long transfers.
"Strangely, I have never been good in Italy since the beginning of my career but I like Spain a lot."
That seems to be the case, with Moncontié putting in a great showing during the 2008 and '09 editions of the Vuelta, taking a stage win in Cerler and atop of the Sierra Nevada (pictured above right) and finishing in Madrid with the jersey of best climber firmly on his shoulders.
And there's every chance of him adding another mountains crown to that collection if his sentiments about the course are any indication. "I've looked at this year's course going into the details and I like it", he said.
"It's hard and I'll have several opportunities to win a stage. I know how to be the king of the mountains again: to score a maximum of points in stage three and at the top of the Puerto de Leon, and count the points after that.
"But the thing is: I haven't done the Tour de France this year, so I don't know where I'm at in terms of fitness. I trained in July but no training can replace the Tour de France," he added. "In August I took part in the Polynormande, Paris-Corrèze and the Tour du Limousin. I hope it'll be enough."
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