Joaquin Rodriguez said that he’s in an ideal position to win the Vuelta a España, a day after taking over the race lead from Vincenzo Nibali at the end of the queen stage to Cotobello. The Spaniard was adamant that he even intends to keep the red jersey after the 46km individual time trial in Peñafiel on Wednesday.
“Being the leader of the Vuelta at this stage of the race is perfect in my mind,” said the rider from Katusha, who enjoys an advantage of 33 seconds over Nibali, 53 seconds over Ezequiel Mosquera, 2:16 over Fränk Schleck and 3:01 over Nicholas Roche. “I don’t rate Nibali and Mosquera as the only dangerous riders for me,” Rodriguez added. “Schleck is still able to win the Vuelta as well.”
Prior to training on the flat course of the time trial with his road bike, Rodriguez expressed his confidence in doing well in a speciality that is not his forte. “The time trial is difficult but not impossible,” he said. “I don’t want to lose the red jersey because of the time trial.” Experts speculate that Nibali should go two minutes faster than him on such a course but “Purito” hopes to ride his best time trial ever.
In the Katusha team, Vladimir Karpets deliberately lost time on stage 16, even though he was tenth on GC before the start. He’ll have to set a reference time for Rodriguez. “The whole team is going very well,” the race leader added. “Their help will be precious after the time trial too. Stage 17 to Salamanca will be very windy and stage 18 to Toledo is long and dangerous too. And then, of course, the penultimate stage to Bola del Mundo will be decisive on Saturday. Many things can still happen. All the riders who are up on GC still seem to have great form at the end of the Vuelta. As for myself, I have planned my season very well and that’s why I still feel good now.”
“I came to the Vuelta with three goals: 1. to wear the red jersey, 2. to win a stage, 3. to win the Vuelta,” Rodriguez said. “As I have already reached two of these three goals, I can only be satisfied. If I don't win the overall classification, it wouldn’t be a drama but I think I can do it.”