Just 16 seconds separated Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) from remaining in the the lead of the Giro d'Italia at the end of the closing time trial on Sunday. Not a time trial specialist, he rode the best time trial of his career and scored the 26th best time. It was an improvement from 40th place in one year, but not enough to keep Ryder Hesjedal from taking the maglia rosa although he did win the points competition by one point over Mark Cavendish (Sky).
"My directeur sportif Valerio Piva supported me greatly during the time trial," said Rodriguez. "The time checks he gave me were a question of seconds, so I took all the risks until the last corner as I knew that Hesjedal also had to take risks."
"Anything could happen. I had the illusion that I could win until the last moment. I learned from my masseur that I had lost. That makes it even harder."
Rodriguez, who crashed against barricades during his warm up but with no major consequence, was highly disappointed to lose the Giro d'Italia. However, he was a proud father when he brought his children Pablo and Elsa on the final podium with him.
He refused to consider where and why he lost the Giro. "It's destiny," he said. "Mistakes have been made, but if we had worked on dropping Hesjedal during the first week Ivan Basso might have won the Giro. I could have won the overall classification if time bonuses were allocated on all the stages, including the top mountain finishes, but I prefer to leave with no regret."
"Purito" leaves the Giro with the status of World's number 1 as the new leader of the WorldTour with 404 points ahead of previous leader Tom Boonen who has 366. Rodriguez won that ranking in 2010.
He'll have more chances to score UCI points next week when he starts the Dauphiné next Sunday with a 5.7km stage in Grenoble. He confirmed his participation at the end of the Giro after, having previously been on "standby" for the event.
"I'll try to do something there as well," he said. "Cycling is my passion, I love talking cycling. If one day I can't go on my bike, I don't feel good." He discovered the Dauphiné one year ago and won two mountain stages and finished fifth on his first attempt.