Joaquim Rodriguez is confident that he will remain at Katusha beyond the end of the 2012 season. He has one year remaining on his current deal with the Russian squad and is in negotiations with the team’s new management to extend his stay.
“It’s true that with the old management of Katusha, the agreement to renew for 2013 was practically done. Then there was a change in management, and now we are negotiating with the new directors,” Rodriguez said, according to Marca.
As part of the changes, Hans-Michael Holczer, formerly of Gerolsteiner, has taken over as manager of Katusha from Andrei Tchmil, who is set to run for the presidency of the European Cycling Union next year. Valerio Piva and Christian Henn join the team as directeurs sportifs, and Erik Zabel arrives as sprint coach.
“I’m sure that things won’t change much as I see good intentions on their part,” Rodriguez said. “I have always felt at ease and up to now they haven’t given me any reason to change the situation.”
Looking back on his 2011 campaign, Rodriguez was pleased with his performance in the classics, even if he was unable to convert high placings into wins. “I think it’s been my best year in the classics. I got on the podium in Amstel, Flèche and Lombardy, and came fourth in San Sebastian,” he said.
Fifth overall at the Giro d’Italia, Rodriguez travelled to the Vuelta a España with high hopes of challenging for the podium in Madrid. Although he took two stages and wore the red jersey early on, he slipped out of contention in week two and suffered a heavy fall on stage 16. He went on to lose the green jersey to Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) on the final stage. “I’m sure that if I hadn’t had that fall, I would have been able to do better overall,” he said.
Rodriguez will be joined at Katusha in 2011 by his fellow countryman Oscar Freire, who arrives at the team from Rabobank. “I think the new signings are going to contribute a lot.”