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© RIA Novosti. Andrei Stenin

Menchov takes third in Tour de France

by at 29/07/2010 19:13

Russian cyclist Denis Menchov finished on the podium for the first time ever in the Tour de France, and declared that he was “satisfied” with his third-place performance as he won his up-and-down battle with Samuel Sanchez to become the best of the rest.


The 2010 Tour – cycling’s most prestigious road race – was dominated from the Alps to the Pyrenees by Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, who sealed the podium’s top two places for the second year running.


Menchov not disappointed


Menchov, of Rabobank, impressively finished only 2.01 minutes behind Spaniard Contador, who sealed his third victory.


“It’s a normal result. It’s possible to be satisfied,” Contador told Sport Express after finishing Sunday’s final stage along the Champs Elysees.


The Russian rider recorded a solid time trial to hold off the challenge Euskatel-Euskadi’s Sanchez, but had little hope of catching either of cycling’s equivalents of Nadal and
Federer.


After taking 1.52 minute off Contador in the final 52-kilometre time trial, Menchov told Agence France Presse he wasn’t too disappointed that he hadn’t tried harder to stick to Contador and Schleck in the mountains.


“I didn’t want to get obsessed by the yellow jersey, I was afraid of being disappointed again,” he said.


Legacy of ‘Chaingate’


The tour, however, will be best remembered for “Chaingate” – Contador’s attack on Schleck when the Luxembourg rider’s chain fell off after he tried to switch gears standing up on the mountainous stage 16.


Contador, who ended his association with Astana following the tour, eventually won by 39 seconds, exactly the same time his rival lost following his mechanical problems.


Attacking when a yellow jersey contender has a mechanical or falls is considered bad etiquette in cycling.


While the two riders – who have holidayed together – put the event behind them, their fans are still at loggerheads over the incident.


Pundits were also split over whether Contador should have waited, while the Spaniard first claimed he hadn’t seen Schleck’s problem, before later apologising.


Johan Bruyneel, the Belgian who masterminded Lance Armstrong’s seven tour wins, commented: “There are no gifts in this race.”


Menchov was unlikely to compete with the mountain specialists in the Pyrenees, despite breaking from them in one stage, where the two heavyweights played mind games.


Contador slowed to a virtual standstill at one point as the two climbers almost emulated track cycling as they concentrated solely on each other, allowing Menchov and Sanchez to
escape.


“There was a situation when it was necessary to [attack] as Contador and Schleck guarded each other and to remain with them was senseless,” Menchov told Sport Express. “When you go on a breakaway you always hope for the best. I also hoped that I could beat Sanchez and reduce the backlog on the leaders.”


Next stop Spain


Menchov will now turn his attention to Spain’s grand tour, La Vuelta, which starts on August 28 in Sevilla.


Following a tough Tour de France, which saw them climb the monstrous Col du Tourmalet twice, the Russian will hope to recover in time.


As a two-time winner of the Spanish tour, Menchov’s director of sport has high hopes that he can put in a good performance.


The Vuelta is now a good option, because the primary objective has been achieved at the Tour de France,” Erik Breukink told Rabo Sport. “There’s not much to lose.”


Meanwhile, Russia’s Katusha team finished way back in 18th place, 3 hours 28 minutes behind the US’s Team Radioshack.

However, Joaquin Oliver Rodriguez won stage 12 and finished 8th overall, sealing a positive tour for the mostly quiet Katusha.

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