UCI trophies awarded in Madrid
Today in Madrid, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Movistar and Spain have received their awards for their victories in their respective UCI WorldTour categories - individual, team and nation - from the UCI president Brian Cookson.
Rodriguez, 34, described the award as an honour and pointed out that he has won the same category of best-ranked UCI WorldTour individual rider for two years in a row and three years in his career - in 2013 and 2012 ahead of Sky's Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins - and that "it gives me strength to go on working and racing."
The Catalan said that the trophy - which he received in the presence of Spain's Minister for Sport, José Ignacio Wert - would likely end up in a museum that is due to be constructed in his home town of Parets del Valles, containing all his awards, team jerseys and bikes from his career.
This year Purito has taken his first ever podium in the Tour de France, where he finished third, as well as fourth in the Vuelta along with a stage win. His first victory of the year came in the Tour of Oman on the Green Mountain summit finish and he followed that up with a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico and - despite crashing out in Amstel - a sixth in Fleche Wallone behind Katusha team-mate Dani Moreno, as well as second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a deeply frustrating silver in the World Championships.
In the UCI WorldTour Rodriguez finished 20 points ahead of Froome after winning Il Lombardia for a second year running, with Froome, who would have had to finish inside the top ten in the Italian Classic, not taking part. After the Briton, the longstanding leader of the rankings, did not participate in the Tour of Beijing, either, the UCI WorldTour individual rankings victory was effectively Rodriguez for the taking.
Whilst Spain's award as top ranking nation - the seventh it has received since 2005 - was accepted by Federation president José Luis López Cerrón, Eusebio Unzue of Movistar was present to claim that of best team. His squad had already won the award once before, back in 2008, when it was taken by then sponsor Caisse d'Epargne.
"This is a reward for the entire squad, and that is particularly important in a sport as idiosyncratic as cycling, where team efforts often end up with individual victories. In cycling team prizes have therapeutic value," Unzue said in his ‘acceptance speech'.
Like Rodriguez, he emphasised that the UCI WorldTour award was one that indirectly recognised Movistar's consistency throughout the season, "ever since the start of it in Australia on January and up to the final race in October, in China, which was our last chance to conquer the win and where we were fortunate enough to overtake Sky in the standings."