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Joaquim Rodríguez in the 2011 Katusha team kit
Katusha leader confident his form is better than last year
Buoyed by victory in the recent Vuelta a Burgos, where he had a significant edge on everyone on the climbs, Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez (Katusha) says that his clear goal going into the Vuelta a España is to win his national tour.
After finishing fifth at the Giro in May and the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, when he also won back-to-back mountain stages, Rodríguez has not raced as much as this summer as he did last year when he rode the Tour de France before lining up a the Vuelta. Although he led the 2010 race for one day in second week and another during the final week, he flopped spectacularly in the final time trial to drop back to fourth overall at the finish in Madrid.
“I feel better than I did last year, I’m really keen to see how far I can go,” he told a press conference in his team’s Benidorm hotel. “Winning in Burgos makes me feel a little more relaxed because it is reassuring to find out that the work you’ve put in is going well.”
Rodríguez admitted he also got carried away with the thought of winning a stage and wearing the leader’s red jersey through his home region of Catalonia last year. This, he said, contributed significantly to his loss of form in the final week.
The Katusha leader picked out the Salamanca time trial and the mountain stages in Asturias during the Vuelta’s third week as the race’s key points. “To finish on the highest step of the podium I need to improve my time trialling, because in the mountains I am close to the best. This year I hope it won’t be as disastrous as last year because that would ruin everything.”
The diminutive Spaniard named Igor Antón, Vincenzo Nibali and Denis Menchov as his main rivals, but added: “You can’t forget riders like Brajkovic, Van den Broeck, Wiggins and Scarponi either.”