Joaquim Rodríguez of Caisse d'Epargne assured to arrive at the Giro, which starts this Saturday, "in perfect condition, physically as well as mentally". He added that "the only fear I have is the last week. I am in form since March, and depending how things develop I could pay for that. But we'll see, with the desire to race that I have, I hope to finish well."
The Spanish team can rely on multiple strong players, with Rodríguez being joined by team-mates José Rujano and Vladimir Karpets in a shared leader's role. The reigning Spanish road champion explained that "This Giro is very tough and logically we don't have a clear leader for the overall, like Valverde or Pereiro. I think we each need to ride with liberty in our terrain and hope for the last week, which is hardest, to see how we are going."
His personal objectives are a stage victory and a good result in the general classification, but he made it clear that if having to choose, he would prefer to take an individual win over a decent GC ranking. "I would not change a stage against a place in the top five of the GC... This [a stage win] is what motivates the most – at least that's my belief. Logically, if you win a stage, it is comparable to get a great result in GC, like being in the top 10. But if you'd let me choose..."
Rodríguez will participate for the third time in the Giro, after 2001 with ONCE, in his first year as a professional, and he returned to the Corsa Rosa in 2005, with Saunier Duval. Both times he finished 80th in GC, but the GC wasn't an objective on either occasion. "I went into breaks and the intention was to win a stage," the Spaniard clarified his objectives at the time. First and foremost he wanted to "learn how to look after myself and how to recover [in a Grand Tour]."
This time, things are different, starting with the most obvious, his age. "During the Giro I will celebrate my 29th birthday, and I think I have changed a lot in those years. I consider myself a rider who knows himself much better than before and I know what I can achieve."
Going into the race he is not hiding his objectives and has already singled out some stages. And of course the pink jersey is an objective. "Let's not forget we have a good team and if we win or don't lose much time in the [team] time trial, I can fight in those finales [of the first stages] to wear pink."