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As Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) racked up another grand tour podium finish, he was already zeroing in on the Vuelta a Espana which begins in just over a month's time.
Rodríguez finished third overall in the 2013 Tour de France, behind winner Chris Froome (Sky) and runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar). It was yet another top performance for the Spaniard who was second overall at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and third overall at the 2012 Vuelta.
"I'm so happy about this podium it's really something special, considering the first week,” Rodríguez said. "I know this result is very important for Katusha, for Russia and especially for Mr. Igor Makarov: it's thanks to him if I can take these kind of results, so this podium it's also dedicated to him. I have to thank also my teammates: their huge work helped me to recover the gap in general classification.”
Rodríguez's Tour got off to a slower-than-optimal start, with the 34-year-old struggling to make an impact through the Pyrenees. By stage 9, there were signs of life in his campaign, finishing fifth in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The stage to Mont Ventoux saw Rodríguez finish just off the podium in fourth but his intentions were made clear during the stage 17 individual time trial where he finished third, just 10 seconds back on the winning time of Froome.
It was just his second appearance at the Tour de France, having finished 7th overall in 2010.
"I think I proved once again my continuity: it's the third podium in a row in a Grand Tour, the fact I took it in 'Tour de France' after the troubles of the first week makes it even more special,” he explained.
Rodríguez admits that keeping his podium roll going at the Vuelta, getting underway in Vilanova de Arousa on August 24 with 11 summit finishes highlighting an exceptionally difficult 68th edition of the Spanish Grand Tour, will be an uphill battle, especially given that some of his rivals sat out the Tour.
"Now I'll get ready for 'Vuelta a Espana': it won't be easy, I will find some great riders such as Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Basso. But our team is strong, and we'll do our best to win the general classification."