Monfort hopes for 2012 Vuelta leadership

Maxime Monfort (Leopard-Trek)

Maxime Monfort (Leopard-Trek) (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Having finished sixth overall at the last Vuelta a Espana, Maxime Monfort has high ambitions for the upcoming season. The Belgian, who came to RadioShack-Nissan via the merger with Leopard Trek, nevertheless knows that it will be difficult for him as a new Grand Tour contender to establish himself.

"I want to do even better at the next Vuelta and I truly believe that I'm capable of it," he told La Dernière Heure at the team's training camp in Calpe, Spain. "Without a doubt, I will have to skip the Olympics to give myself a longer period of rest after the Tour. My good placing in 2011 has boosted my confidence and I think I have gained experience in a three-week race where - for the first time - I assumed the number one status within the team. This training will be precious in view of the new season in which I'm well-decided to take my responsibilities!"

Still, the merger with RadioShack has added even more three-week specialists to the team such as Andreas Klöden and Chris Horner. The new super team, managed by Johan Bruyneel, will have a luxury problem in roster selection for the Grand Tours and needs to elaborate a schedule that will offer individual chances to all of its riders - something Monfort is well aware of.

"The only negative point of this new outfit - and I don't know if you can actually call it that - is the extreme internal rivalry that we may experience," Monfort warned. "The core of the team is very, very solid and you will have to prove your worth to establish yourself within the hierarchy. I've received some appeasing feedback concerning my selection for the Tour de France, but if you put down the names that can apply for a place in the Tour line-up, your head starts spinning..."

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