Joaquim Rodríguez starts his 14th season as a pro cyclist in Argentina, just as he did in 2013. Katusha's roster for the UCI 2.1 Tour de San Luis includes four Spaniards and two Italians, as Rodriguez is joined by compatriots Dani Moreno, Ángel Vicioso and Alberto Losado, as well as Luca Paolini and Giampaolo Caruso.
Rodríguez has already revealed to Cyclingnews that the Giro d'Italia will be his main target for the upcoming season, and he believes that the Tour de San Luis offers an ideal start to his campaign.
"The stages are varied, with no less than three summit arrivals plus a time trial. It’s a perfect route to build up a good work base. I definitely won’t be starting out to win because I’m still behind in my preparation and over all because the South Americans will be arriving in top form and highly motivated," Rodríguez said.
As well as the Giro, Rodríguez's other big goal for 2014 is Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Catalan was beaten by Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) last year, but is determined to add his name to the palmares. "Liège is the main classic to me, every year again. I was very close in 2013. Its a great race and my attack in the final of last year's race was almost perfect," Rodríguez told Agencia San Luis. "I hope to be lucky next year and win my favorite Classic."
At the Tour de San Luis, Rodríguez will face tough opposition at the beginning of the road season. Movistar brings the Quintana brothers and Tour of Beijing winner Beñat Intxausti. BMC lines up Taylor Phinney and its new signing Darwin Atapuma while Astana bring former winner Vincenzo Nibali, Tanel Kangert and Michele Scarponi to Argentina. Other big names on the start list are Peter Sagan and former stage winners José Serpa, Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen and Sascha Modolo.
The defending champion is Daniel Diaz. The Argentinian rider beat BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen by 33 seconds and winner of the third stage, Alex Diniz, by 39 seconds. Alberto Contador, who took his only victory of the season in Argentina last year, will not return in 2014 and his Tinkoff-Saxo team is not on the start list.