Joaquim Rodriguez has confirmed that he will ride the Tour de France after crashes and injuries wreaked his hopes for success in the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia.
The Spaniard finished third overall in the 2013 Tour de France behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) but had opted to target the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana this season.
His Giro d'Italia hopes ended after being involved in the pile-up on the stage to Montecassino, when he fractured a rib and hurt his finger. He is recovering well and intends to ride the Tour de France to ensure he is at his best for the Vuelta a Espana. He is expected to target stage victories rather than a good result in the general classification of the Tour de France.
“I really wanted to perform well in the first part of the season. I had big ambitions but my crashes in the Amstel Gold Race and the Giro ruined my chances for the classics as well as for the first Grand Tour of the season," he explained on the Katusha team website.
"The other goal I put in place at the beginning of the season, the Tour of Spain, is still there. The course suits me and I want to win that race. This does not mean that I go to the Tour de France as preparation for the Vuelta. I have Tour ambitions too, though not for the GC. The third week looks nice and I want to win one or more stages. I have that goal and in the mean time I will enjoy my bike. Otherwise it would be hard to watch TV without being there. It hurt during the Giro and it would hurt in the Tour, too. Those races are ‘my’ races."
Katusha has yet to name its Tour de France line-up but it is expected to include sprinter Alexander Kristoff and Criterium di Dauphine winners Yuri Trofimov and Simon Spilak.
Rodriguez recently had a check-up on his injuries and hopes to be fully recovered in time for the start of the Tour de France in Leeds on July 5.
“My rib still hurts a bit, but already there is much less pain than in the beginning. It gets better every day and we still have three more weeks until the Tour,” Rodriguez said.