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A front view of Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) in the wind tunnel
Katusha leader aware of challenges surrounding Grand Boucle
All going to plan, Joaquim Rodríguez intends to arrive on the island of Corsica for the start of the 100th edition of the Tour de France at the same level he displayed at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. Team Katusha's leader makes his return to France after his most recent appearance in 2010 but this time he's more concerned with what he can control - his form.
To match his performances at the Giro - where he finished second overall and won two stages - and the Vuelta - where he won three stages and finished third overall - is no simple task but last year's number-one ranked rider in the UCI standings says if he performs at an equal level to 2012 and fails to finish on the podium in Paris, he will remain satisfied knowing that he gave everything possible.
"At the 2012 Giro d'Italia, I was at hundred percent and I hope to match it at the Tour. If cannot win or make the podium with that level, I will have to be content with the position I get," said Rodríguez to Europapress.
The reduced amount of individual time trial kilometres in this year's race will no doubt fall more in the favour of the explosive climber who lost the Giro lead in the final TT of 2012 but there are still 65 solo kilometres to contest along with a 25km-long team time trial which will undoubtedly put pressure on his position. Having spent time in the wind tunnel already this year, the 34-year-old remains optimistic about his chances.
"It is not at all unreasonable to think about stepping onto the podium. We are prepared to make a great Tour as we did in the Giro and the Vuelta and all I can do is hope to be at the same level," he added.
A seasoned grand tour contender 'Purito' is all too aware of the additional challenges thrown up at the Tour which extend beyond one of the most competitive GC fields seen in recent years.
"[Chris] Froome, [Alberto] Contador and [Alejandro] Valverde are not alone in the GC fight. For sure there will be many more like [Jurgen] Van den Broeck, [Tejay] van Garderen, [Cadel] Evans or Andy Schleck.
"There are many factors that make the Tour different, there's extra stress as riders know that being seen in the Tour could change your career. It's the biggest race of the year and followed by so many including the fans and sponsors etcetera."