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Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) back in red at the Vuelta a España.
Consistency pays off for Spanish climber
Joaquin Rodriguez's season ended just 40km into Saturday's Tour of Lombardy but the Spanish climber ended the year on a high after securing the top spot in the UCI World Ranking. Victory in a Grand Tour or a major classic may be more prestigious than the season-long ranking in cycling but Rodriguez racked up a total of 551 points, finishing ahead of Alberto Contador and Philippe Gilbert.
"For me it proves I rode well throughout the season. It rewards my consistency as well as my results," Rodriguez told Cyclingnews. "I'm very proud to be able to say I'm the number one ranked rider in 2010. It's like an extra victory and something that will always be on my palmares."
Rodriguez won the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in the spring as well as taking stages in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. He also finished second in Fleche Wallonne, fourth overall in the Vuelta a España, fifth in the Clasica San Sebastian, seventh in Paris-Nice, eighth overall in the Tour de France and ninth in the Tour de Suisse.
"I scored a lot of points in the first half of the season but to be honest the world ranking didn't become a big objective until after the Tour de France. That's when we saw that I was well-placed to win it and so that's why I decided to ride the Vuelta with the aim of scoring as many more points as possible,” he said.
Rodriguez spent two days in the red Vuelta leader's jersey and eventually finished fourth overall, securing him a mathematical unbeatable advantage over Contador and Gilbert. Rodriguez’s compatriot has since been suspended after a failed anti-doping test while Gilbert went on to ride a strong Worlds road race and finish his season with a victory at Lombardy.
"I thought I had a shot at overall victory but the Vuelta proved a little bit too long and too tough for me after raced for so much during the season,” said Rodriguez. “But I'm not disappointed with fourth overall. I still scored some precious points and secured the number one world ranking, so it was a successful Vuelta for me and the team.”
Rodriguez will again be one of the team leader's at Katusha in 2011, alongside Filippo Pozzato and Alexandr Kolobnev. The Russian team is already planning for the 2011 season at a get together near Lake Garda this week. Rodriguez is likely to again ride the Tour and the Vuelta, hoping to perform well overall in one, if not both stage races.
"Katusha is a good team because without a good team you can't results and win the world ranking. I obviously have to share my success with the guys who rode for me and helped score the points," he said. "I'll be with Katusha next year and I hope to at least do as well as this year in 2011. We'll study the route of the Giro and the Tour this week and then we'll decide which now to target.
“I'd like to do the same as this year: the Tour and Vuelta, because it went so well," he added.