Rodriguez squad finishes 19th in bad day for Spaniard
History repeated itself for Katusha in the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday - and not in a way they would have liked.
Just like in 2011's opening team time trial in Turin when they finished 20th after some mechanical problems played havoc with their ride, Katusha turned in a below-expectations performance at Belfast, with the rain that intermittently fell throughout the afternoon pouring down like the proverbial cats and dogs when the Russian squad were on the course - and arguably badly affecting their performance.
Nineteenth on the stage at 1:33 on Orica GreenEDGE, team leader Joaquim Rodriguez is now 1:28 behind Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), 1:26 down on Cadel Evans (BMC) and 38 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
"It was really tough, really difficult and I'm very tired," Rodriguez told Spanish sports daily AS before thanking each of his teammates personally then riding away through the rain.
On the team's website, Katusha sports director José Azevedo pinpointed the weather as one factor that had not helped his squad to perform at their best.
"This wasn't what we expected, we lost a lot of time to Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran," he said.
"Just one minute before our start time it started to rain. If you look at both Movistar and Lotto-Belisol that started near us, they also didn't do a good time. I think many teams raced with wet roads but a few raced with the roads completely dry. In the technical parts, this made all the difference."
Azevedo continued: "We also had to wait for Gusev when he crashed coming into a corner, so we lost some more seconds there. Now this is the time we have to work with but the entire race is still in front of us. We have one goal and motivation and we trust in Joaquim. This is only the first day and there is so much racing ahead of us."
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