What’s an aging Russian stage racer to do?
Denis Menchov, ranked 9 out of 10 on the UCI “suspicious” list and still reeling after police seized 2.4 million euros from his bank account during their Ferrari doping investigation, is looking for a new team.
His Geox-TMC squad, aka the Steaming Shoe Irons, is all but dead and he’s hunting for work. He might even find it although Saxo Bank’s Bjarne Riis insists he has no cash left to sign anybody who isn’t Japanese.
“I’ve already started to negotiate with other teams. Now, I will calmly consider all options,” he told Russian web site Velolive. “Of course they are first division teams.”
The obvious spot at least from a deep-pockets perspective would be a return to the homeland and Katusha, The Global Russian Cycling Shindig. However, Menchov killed that idea quickly. “Not true. My future team will be abroad,” said the rider nicknamed the Silent Assassin.
Last year, Menchov and his agent got into an ugly pissing match with Katusha boss Andre Tchmil and perhaps relations are still stuck in that Cold War atmosphere. It was like two Russian mobsters pounding their shoes on the table like old school Nikita Khruschev. Noisy, pointless.
This season Menchov, 33, finished third overall in the Vuelta a Murcia, fifth in the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour of Austria and eighth in the Giro. There’s still some mileage left on the tires and UCI points to be scored. He’s also got to make up that 2.4 million he donated to the police. Wife still a little annoyed about that ding in the family budget.
Where is Denis headed? No matter where, it will be somewhat “suspicious.”