Menchov targets Tour rather than Vuelta defense

MADRID Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:31am EST

Rabobank's Denis Menchov of Russia cycles during stage 15 of the Tour of Spain ''La Vuelta'' cycling race between Villacarrillo and Granada September 16, 2007. Menchov will target success in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia this year rather than try to defend his crown in the Tour of Spain. REUTERS/Dani Cardona

Rabobank's Denis Menchov of Russia cycles during stage 15 of the Tour of Spain ''La Vuelta'' cycling race between Villacarrillo and Granada September 16, 2007. Menchov will target success in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia this year rather than try to defend his crown in the Tour of Spain.

Credit: Reuters/Dani Cardona

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MADRID (Reuters) - Russian cyclist Denis Menchov will target success in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia this year rather than try to defend his crown in the Tour of Spain.

"My idea is to aim for the Tour de France and I think the Giro is a race that will help me prepare for that and so I have decided against riding in the Vuelta," the Rabobank rider was quoted as saying on the Web site of sports daily Marca (www.marca.com) on Tuesday.

"At Rabobank we've got a very strong team in all areas," he added. "We've got people who can challenge for overall victory, sprinters like (Oscar) Freire and one-day specialists like Juan Antonio Flecha."

Menchov, who also won the Tour of Spain in 2005 after Roberto Heras was stripped of victory for testing positive for EPO, won the 11th stage of the Tour de France in 2006 but abandoned in last year's race.

(Reporting by Simon Baskett; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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