Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) took another small but important step towards the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey after he clinched third place in the sprint of around 20 riders behind Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF) and Beñat Intxausti (Movistar).
The eight second bonus the Katusha pro netted as a result enabled Rodríguez to leapfrog ahead of Saturday’s stage winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and squeeze Ryder Hesjedal’s advantage to within single digits - nine seconds.
“I felt better than yesterday [Saturday],” Rodríguez said afterwards as he looked back at a very successful first two mountainous stages, “the climb suited me a lot more even if Astana and Liquigas were going all out.”
Despite his excellent position overall, he preached caution, saying “we’re barely into the second week, it’s too early to say what’s going to happen, I’m going to stay calm for now.”
As for Saturday’s climb to Rocca di Cambio, Rodríguez said “I wasn’t well-placed, and I wasn’t so comfortable on the climb. I could have fought for the victory, but the important thing is I was ahead.”
He is equally satisfied with the first eight days of racing, “because in all the major Tours I’ve done so far, I’ve always been on the backfoot, for one reason or another, in the first week. This time it’s different.”
“I’ve also had a very good first part of the season”- with a victory in Fleche Wallone as the high point - “so I can be a bit more relaxed about the Giro. Whatever happens, the pressure is off.”
Asked if he thinks he can take the jersey at Assisi, which finished with a steep, cobbled, climb that seems all but made for him, Rodríguez smiles and says “I’m taking this day by day.”