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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will start his 2014 season at the Tour de San Luis
Report: WorldTour leader may switch week-long stage races for altitude training
Spanish website Biciciclismo has reported that Katusha leader and 2013 WorldTour winner Joaquim Rodriguez may well skip Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country this year and spend more time training at altitude on the Canary Islands instead.
Currently racing at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina, Rodriguez has said on several occasions that his three key objectives this season will be Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which he finished second last year, the Giro d’Italia, in which he was runner-up in 2012 and the Vuelta a España, where he finished third and fourth in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Rodriguez has been a regular participant at Tirreno-Adriatico, too, with some notable successes. Last year he won a stage and finished fifth, and previously he has had two wins on the Monte Lupone summit finish, often the hardest single day in the 'Race of Two Seas'. He has not featured quite so prominently in the Tour of the Basque Country, not racing last year for example, but he has been a big factor in the past. He finished second overall and won two stages in 2012, and also won stages in 2011 and 2010.
Should Biciciclismo’s report be confirmed, Rodriguez’s only race between the Tour of Oman and the Ardennes Classics will now be the Volta a Catalunya, his home race and with two long training camps on Mount Teide either side of Catalunya, he will start the Giro d’Italia with just 27 days of racing in his legs.
The other effect of a shorter race program is that it would be more difficult for Rodriguez to defend his WorldTour title. Last year, when he did not race Pais Vasco, either, Rodriguez secured 58 points of his final total of 607 at Tirreno-Adriatico, which proved crucial overall given that he only beat Chris Froome (Team Sky) by 20 points. And in 2012, when he finished with 692 WorldTour points he secured a total of 142 from the two week-long races he is now, apparently, set to miss in 2014.