VALLOIRE, France, (AFP) — Russian rider Denis Menchov, a former winner of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, has decided to hang up the bike citing knee problems, according to reports in the Russian press on Monday.
Menchov, 35 years old, joined the Russian Katusha team in 2011. The team had not confirmed the news by early Monday evening.
In 14 seasons in the professional peloton, the Pamplona, Spain-based rider twice won the Vuelta (2005 and 2007) and once the Giro, the (2009). His 2005 win came after Heras was found to have used performance enhancing drugs during the race. He won his Giro, after a fierce duel with Danilo Di Luca, who was later disqualified for doping.
Menchov himself faced serious suspicion for doping, but did not register a positive test. His name was mentioned in an expose centered on the Humanplasma clinic in Austria and he was accused by the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport of being in contact with the Italian trainer Michele Ferrari, sanctioned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in the U.S. Postal Service case in 2012 and by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in 2002.
Originally from Orel, a remote town 400 kilometers from Moscow in southwestern Russia, Menchov has always been very careful, quick to trivialize his career. Known as a follower, he took advantage of his qualities as a roleur and climber to build palmares that included, in addition to the Vuelta and the Giro, the Tour de l’Avenir in 2001 and the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in 2004. He won stage 20 of the Vuelta in 2012.
In the Tour de France, the Russian reached the podium twice, in 2008 (third after the disqualification of Bernhard Kohl) and in 2010 (second behind Andy Schleck after the disqualification of Alberto Contador).
This season, he was fourth overall in the Volta ao Algarve and second in the fifth stage of Paris-Nice, to La Montagne de Lure. He abandoned his final race, the Vuelta a Catalunya, in March.
Professional since 2000, Menchov rode for four different teams: Banesto, Rabobank, Geox, and finally Katusha.