Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez will begin his 15th season as a professional at the Dubai Tour on Wednesday. The 35-year-old opted out of starting in the Tour de San Luis, Tour Down Under or Mallorca Challenge, as he has done in previous years, choosing to delay his debut until February because of his focus on the latter part of the 2015 season.
"This year I want to race the Tour and Vuelta, so I decided to start a little later than in recent years, not racing in Argentina, and debuting in Dubai," Rodriguez said.
"It's a race that left me feeling very good last year, and I think it's a great race to begin with, with good organisation, good weather and a nice route."
Although he has yet to turn a pedal in competition this year, 'Purito' has been training well in the off-season. The course may not suit climbers such as himself, however. "The sensations are good for this point in the season, but it will be difficult to get any results in Dubai, but it will serve to help me get to ideal form."
Rodriguez, like several other Tour contenders, will use the race to work for their faster finishing teammates while tuning up for the Tour of Oman.
"We have a great team, which I think both the young Sergei Chernetckii as Angel Vicioso will be the leaders in this race," Rodriguez said.
Katusha will also field Simon Špilak, Aleksandr Porsev, Anton Vorobyev, Eduard Vorganov and Egor Silin in the race under the direction of José Azevedo.
Rodriguez will follow his campaign in the Middle East with Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, the Ardennes Classics and the Critérium du Dauphiné before the Tour de France. His late-season programme includes the Clásica San Sebastián and Vuelta a España.