Joaquin Rodriguez had only five victories on the 2011 season, but rode consistently enough to finish atop the International Cycling Union's season-long rankings. The Katusha rider is now looking to top those results this season.
His 2010 wins may have been few in number, but they were all top quality: the overall win in the Volta a Catalunya, the GP Miguel Indurain, and stages in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. He also helped himself with his high finishes in the two Grand Tours, ending the Tour in eighth overall and just missing out on the podium at the Vuelta, finishing in fourth place.
Rodriguez is as yet undecided as to which, and how many, of the Grand Tours he will tackle in 2011. “There are different options. Seeing how hard the course is, the team wants me to fight for the Giro d'Italia,” he told biciciclismo.com. “It scares me a little and I am certainly not going to change my Classics preparation for the Giro.
“I will have to see how I am after Liege. If I feel good and I can keep myself in shape, I will do the Giro and then decide between the Tour and Vuelta. If, on the contrary, I am all in after Liege like I was in 2010, I will rest and prepare for the Tour and Vuelta.”
The 31-year-old will start his eleventh season with the Mallorca Challenge, the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, before looking to repeat his wins in Catalunya and the GP Miguel Indurain. After Pais Vasco and the Clasica Primavera, he will head north to the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege Bastogne-Liege.
The Spanish races, which “I've always loved”, will help him prepare for the Ardennes Classics, “a fantastic week.” He admitted that “I'd like to win Liege because it gives you a place in history, but I'm better at the Fleche.”