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Rabobank looks forward to Vuelta climbs

2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) was on hand.

2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) was on hand. (Image credit: Sirotti)

The 2010 Vuelta a España is “a very nice race with a special character,” according to Rabobank's directeur sportif Adri Van Houwelingen. However, the Dutch ProTour team doesn't know at this point whether its captains Robert Gesink and Denis Menchov will take on the climber's course next year.

Gesink was captain at the 2009 Vuelta and in a promising position until injuries from a crash threw him back. The young Dutchman will concentrate on the Tour de France next year, after having to withdraw because of crash-related injuries this season.

“If Robert Gesink is successful in the Tour, then he will not be at the start in Spain,” added Van Houwelingen.

Also, it is not yet clear whether 2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov will ride the event, which he won in 2005 and 2007. So far, the Russian's race programme has only been set up until the Tour, and does not include the Giro.

Menchov usually rides two Grand Tours each year. "It could be that this time Denis again chooses the Tour and Vuelta, but it still much too early to talk about this,” said Van Houwelingen. As with Gesink, the decision will be made after the Tour.

Looking at the 2010 parcours, the Dutchman noted that the Vuelta organisers seemed to pick out “particularly steep climbs. I have the impression that they succeeded in doing that again. Thus, the climb on the day after the first rest day has gradients up to 20 to 22 percent at the top. "

He was also impressed with the third stage, from Marbella to Malaga, which takes the riders over the Cat. 1 Puerto del Leon in the last half of the short stage, which “makes the Vuelta interesting early. You cannot move up in the ranking in the Vuelta, you must be at the top from the beginning.”

And the race ends as it starts, he noted, as the penultimate stage features two Cat.  climbs before the mountaintop finish at the Bola del Mundo. “The final climb on the penultimate day, that one can bring the decision. We have climbed it before, but now we will do the last three kilometres, which were not done in the past.” He predicted “another shakeup” in the standings on the penultimate day before the finale in Madrid.