Russian rider Denis Menchov can still fight for a medal in the Olympic road race despite his poor showing in the Tour de France, Russia’s head coach told R-Sport on Sunday.
Menchov finished second on the Tour in 2010 and third in 2008 but lost a huge amount of time on one of the Alpine stages this year and is now more than 27 minutes adrift of leader Bradley Wiggins ahead of Sunday’s finale.
“This Tour de France result has no connection to the Olympics. It’s just a crisis, a deep crisis that hit him on one of the hardest stages of the tour,” Dmitry Konyshev said.
“After the Tour de France, he has six days and I think he’ll recover. Apart from that he has the incentive to prove he’s capable of fighting for the very top positions.”
Despite Konyshev’s faith in the ability of Menchov to recover his form, the coach conceded that the 34-year-old Russian time trial champion could struggle in London.
“I think it’ll be hard for Denis, even if he’s in the very best condition,” Konyshev said of the Olympic race.
Despite the anticipation of a strong showing for the Russian-based Katusha team, Menchov’s Tour hopes died on stage 11, when he lost 14 minutes to the leaders and conceded defeat.
“A very, very, very unpleasant surprise,” Konyshev said of Menchov’s performance.
“If you’d told me that Denis Menchov would be outside the top ten in the Tour de France, I’d have laughed in your face. I could have bet my house on it.”
With Menchov’s chances dented, Russia’s hopes of an Olympic medal may now rest on his teammates, Alexander Kolobnev and Vladimir Isaichev, neither of whom entered the Tour, Konyshev said.
The Olympic road race takes place Saturday.