By Antonio J. Salmerón
The script dictated by team Caisse d'Epargne before the Spanish Nationals was fulfilled, with the exception being that Joaquím Rodríguez took the jersey instead of teammate Alejandro Valverde.
Joaquím 'Purito' Rodriguez attacked into the last kilometre on the ascent to the top of Castillo, in Cuenca. The 28 year-old rider reached an untouchable advantage over the other riders, among them was his teammate, Valverde, who controlled the rivals. The roles were reversed, because it is Rodriguez who usually works in the last kilometres of the Spring Classics for Valverde. Maybe that was the reason why, yesterday in Cuenca, Valverde allowed Rodríguez to take the Spanish Championship.
"Before the attack, Rodríguez asked me for permission. He said to me that he had good legs," Alejandro Valverde explained to Cyclingnews.
On the other hand, the winner Joaquím Rodríguez expressed his disagreement with the decision adopted by the Caisse d'Epargne staff. "I have demonstrated that I am ready for disputing the Tour de France; I feel very well," stated Rodríguez. (Read Cyclingnews' May interview, Not your average domestique, for more information on Rodriguez.)
The development of the race was controlled by the Caisse d'Epargne from the beginning. Several Caisse d'Epargne riders were present in some important breaks, such as Rubén Plaza, Oscar Pereiro and José Vicente Garcia. In fact, Pereiro led a small group that stuck until the last ten kilometres. The Caisse d'Epargne riders amassed at the front of the peloton for the narrow two-kilometre final climb, so that it was easy for Rodríguez to attack. Valverde took the silver medal and the Karpin-Galicia's Eladio Jiménez bronze.