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Spain's Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) kissed at the end of Tirreno-Adriatico stage four.
Spanish rider "needed a new challenge"
Joaquim Rodriguez will ride for Katusha in 2010 after leaving Spanish squad Caisse d'Epargne, where he has spent the past four seasons.
The negotiations were concluded during the Tour of Burgos, where he won a stage and briefly held the race lead before countryman and teammate Alejandro Valverde won the event. Rodriguez had next year in mind, however. "Aside from the improved economic conditions, I needed new challenges and Katusha are betting on me to lead the team in certain races," he said.
A guarantee to ride next year's Tour de France was an important factor in Rodriguez's decision to sign for Katusha, a squad which will appreciate his versatility in different events. "I have been assured of my presence in the Tour; my previous teams have never felt the need take me [to the Tour] - I'm very excited because I'm already 30 and this is the only major 'fault' of my career," he explained.
Rodriguez said that despite his leaving, he and Caisse d'Epargne team manager Eusebio Unzué are "very good friends". "Some technical differences aside, I have always been treated very well and these have been four very important years of my career where I think I've grown and matured professionally," he added.
As expected, Rodriguez's main goals will be the Spring Classics and Tour de France next season. The former ONCE and Saunier Duval rider says he expects to "continue improving as a cyclist in an international team such as Katusha," where he will be reunited with former Caisse d'Epargne colleagues Joan Horrach and Vladimir Karpets, with whom he said he has always had a good relationship.