SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (VN) — For the first time in nearly a decade, Denis Menchov didn’t spend the month of July fighting in the Tour de France.
The veteran Russian, who is now part of the Geox-TMC outfit, said skipping the 2011 Tour might not have been such a bad thing.
“It was a little bit like hitting the re-set button this year,” Menchov told VeloNews. “Perhaps it was even better skipping the Tour. After having the same program year after year, it’s to good to recover a little bit the motivation.”
Menchov’s Geox-TMC team was not invited to race the Tour this year, leaving Menchov and teammate Carlos Sastre, the 2008 Tour champ, on the sidelines of the French tour for the first time in nearly a decade. Menchov was third in 2010, but said he didn’t miss racing the Tour that much.
“I took a little bit of a rest during July,” he said. “I did the Tour of Austria and I was training at home, getting ready for the Vuelta. I feel fresh, ready to race.”
Without the Tour, Menchov and Sastre both focused on the Giro-Vuelta double. Menchov wasn’t at his best during May’s Giro d’Italia, when he rode to eighth without seriously challenging for the podium.
“I arrived well to the Giro, but things didn’t go as well as I hoped,” he said. “I had some problems, especially with allergies, and I ended up getting sick.”
Menchov returned to competition with Saturday’s Clásica San Sebastián and will race this week at the five-day Vuelta a Burgos in northern Spain to prepare for the Vuelta a España. As a two-time Vuelta winner, Menchov said he’s aiming for the podium.
“We’ll go to the Vuelta with maximum aspirations,” he said. “It all depends on how the legs go. I believe I will be good at the Vuelta. It’s a hard course, but I hope to be there.”