The “Silent Assassin” Denis Menchov is even more silent than usual. He hasn’t made a sound since his fourth place in the Ruta del Sol in February. His decibel level is zero, he’s inaudible and nearly invisible.
That’s a stark and quiet contrast to the other podium favorites and contenders for this year’s Tour de France. Bradley Wiggins has been on fire all season, Cadel Evan got off to a slow start but he has already shown with his stage 1 win at the Dauphine Libere that he’s on track and will have his form dialed for the three week shindig in France.
While it’s been radio silence for Menchov, perennial Tour runner-up Andy Schleck has been a media storm. He’s “behind schedule,” his RadioShack Nissan Trek squad needs to go back to “square one,” he and his brother Frank are locked in public disputes with team manager Johan Bruyneel. It’s been anything but silent over at the Electronic Gizmo-Car-Bike team.
To keep the analogies going, Menchov is flying below the radar. That’s the way he likes it but he has never flown this low. He abandoned in Paris-Nice and quit the Tour of Romandie and at the opening prologue of the Dauphine he clocked in at 44th place — sure, it’s a short 5.7 kilometer test but rivals Evans and Wiggins were at top speed. In today’s stage 2 from Lamastre to Saint Felicien he slogged in 27 minutes down. What’s the Russian word for “underwhelming?”
There’s no question that Menchov prefers to keep a low profile. The menchov.com website hasn’t been updated since May 25th. Things are equally silent on the Menchov Facebook page — there’s only one “fan” who has posted more than once, the discussion section is empty and there’s nothing on the wall. Menchov — the Silent Social Media Assassin.
Menchov is a proven grand tour rider and a fine time trialer. He won the 2009 Giro d’Italia and post-CAS-Contador, moved up to second in the 2010 Tour de France. With over 100 kilometers against the clock, it’s an ideal route for the 34 yer old from Oryol. The man knows how to get himself ready for a three week suffer-fest but he looks as ready as Andy Schleck — in other words, not. For a rider who stated that Le Tour was his “top priority,” Menchov needs to make a little noise and soon.