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On the back of his victory at the Giro d’Italia, the Rabobank squad arrived in Monaco with high hopes for Denis Menchov to wear the yellow jersey in Paris but so far nothing has gone according to plan.
Menchov disappointed in the opening time trial. Then in the team time trial he crashed on the first corner, which set the tone for the rest of the stage for the Dutch team.
The entire team, with the exception of Oscar Friere, has been built around the Russian. With his chances of winning the Tour all but gone Rabobank should reshuffle the deck chairs to give their Spanish sprinters some support.
Yes, Menchov may well still be able to claw his way back into the top five on general classification but Friere is a proven performer worthy of some support.
Plus, from a completely selfish perspective, wouldn’t get be great to see him have at least a fighting chance against the seemly unstoppable Mark Cavendish.
Friere wouldn’t need much – just two guys to protect him in the final five kilometres to reduce the amount of fighting for wheels he is currently required to do.
They should also give the young Dutchman, Robert Gesink, his freedom in the mountains to go in search of a stage win. After all it is a Dutch team with a Dutch sponsor and such a move is sure to win plenty of support on home soil.
For Menchov the fatigue and emotional release after winning the Giro has obviously been significant so taking a bit of the pressure off his shoulders may even improve his performance.
There’s still a long way to go and Rabobank is bound to have an impact on the Tour somewhere along the line.