Joaquim Rodríguez has been ruled out of Katusha’s team for the Tour of Lombardy after injuring his knee in training. The two-time champion was motor pacing near his home on Friday when he hit his knee on a signpost.
Initial tests show that Rodríguez has suffered a haematoma inside his knee and he will have to undergo further examination to rule out any more serious damage, such as a fracture. “Yesterday morning, before leaving for Italy, I was doing a last training behind a motorbike. Just when I dropped from the motorbike, I did not notice a traffic sign post and hit it with my right knee. I did not crash but immediately I felt a lot of pain,” Rodríguez said in a statement issued by the team on Saturday morning.
“Fortunately I was not far away from home and I managed to arrive home by bike. In the evening, after my arrival in Italy, the pain was getting worse. My knee was swollen. It was even getting hard for me to walk. It is just impossible to race now. This is a real bummer. I was really motivated for this race.”
Rodriguez was one of the favourites for victory, along with the likes of Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde. He won consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013, en-route to winning the overall WorldTour title. Rodríguez has had a relatively strong 2015 season, finishing second at the Vuelta a Espana last month. The injury could spell the end of Rodríguez’s season, although he is still down to ride the Abu Dhabi Tour, which begins next Thursday.
Rodríguez will be replaced by Jacopo Guarnieri but his absence will be a blow for Katusha, who are currently in a tight battle with Movistar for the WorldTour team’s rankings.
“This is sad news for Joaquim and for the team. After the Vuelta a España, where he finished second, Joaquim kept on training for Il Lombardia, his last big goal of the season,” said directeur sportif Jose Azevedo. “For Team Katusha this is an important race as we are still fighting for the number one position in the UCI ranking. We still have Dani Moreno and Ilnur Zakarin. We will fight for it, but we will miss Joaquim.”
The Tour of Lombardy will take place on Sunday October 4.