By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid
Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) was the surprising mountain leader of the Vuelta a España. He worked all the 21 days of the race to reach his goal and finally made it beating Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana), his biggest rival. He performed very well in all the mountain stages and also in all the climbs where KOM points were awarded, but didn't achieve a stage win.
"I would have liked to win a stage because I had options," said Rodriguez at the final Vuelta press conference in Madrid. "But that jersey was very demanding: it forces you to sprint on every climb and I always finished with very little strength left in the finale."
Rodriguez said he got ill with a cold at the Pajares stage and that he had a bad time during the last week. "The day in Avila [stage 18] was the worst day during the Vuelta," the Spaniard commented, adding that he was looking forward to pursue the same jersey again in the coming years. "Jose Luis Laguia achieved five mountain jerseys in the Vuelta. He said that it's a prize with a lot of prestige. I'm young and I have chances of equalling his record."
The 26 year-old will ride for Illes Balears next year as he signed a two-year contract with Unzue's team. "I'm happy with that and let's see if I can keep on improving," Rodriguez said.
Finally, he referred to the World's parcours, which will not be his cup of tea. "I think it's perfect for Petacchi," Rodriguez confirmed the overall sentiment. "I expected a harder course, a more demanding course. I had the feeling that it's a very fast circuit and that it will a very fast race. I think it will be perfect for the sprinters."