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Rodriguez withdraws from US Worlds team, replaced by Busche

Pat Malach
September 18, 2013, 20:48,
September 18, 2013, 21:43
Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 18, 2013
UCI Road World Championships
2013 US pro road race championship podium (L-R): Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare)

2013 US pro road race championship podium (L-R): Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and Kiel Reijnen...

  • 2013 US pro road race championship podium (L-R): Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare)
  • Two Jelly Belly national champions: Fred Rodriguez and Luis Davila
  • Fred Rodriguez (Jelly Belly) talks about going after stage wins this week.

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US champion believed US team needed another climber

US national road race champion Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) told Cyclingnews today that he surrendered his spot on the USA Cycling team for the world championships to RadioShack Leopard's Matthew Busche.

Rodriguez earned an automatic selection to the US team when he won his fourth national championship road race last June in Chattanooga, but he said Wednesday that the Worlds course in Florence, Italy, does not suit his skills, so he gave up the spot.

"After analyzing the course a little bit more and looking at the roster, I feel that another climber would be better suited for this job," Rodriguez said. "I want to go and represent the US. Especially at 40, it would have been really cool, but at the same time it really doesn't suit the skills that I would bring to the team."

The race would have marked Rodriguez's eighth appearance at the world championships. The 272.5km worlds course features more than 3,000 meters of climbing, as much as in a mountain stage at the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France. The total distance during the 11 circuits around Florence in the Elite men's race adds up to 58.65km of climbing, or 30 percent of the distance covered on the circuit. It simply doesn't suit Rodriguez's sprinting skills.

"You know when it's not your race," Rodriguez said. "I was going to go because I was 40 and I wanted to help the team and I have a lot of experience. But at the same time there are other riders who can do the job a little bit better than I can.

"I definitely could be there for the first 200km and bring them bottles, but I think the goal – being that we only have seven guys – we need every guy at the finish," Rodriguez continued. "We need guys that can get over those hills more times so that we have numbers to play with the last 50km. That's really what it's going to take. That said, I don't know if my climbing is at that level to be there. A rider like Busche definitely has the legs to do something like that."

Busche will join his RadioShack Leopard teammate and recently crowned Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Horner, Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) on the US road race team for Worlds.

Despite surrendering his spot this year, Rodriguez, 40, said he hopes to make the worlds championships selection in the future.

"My goal is to hopefully be on a future team with a race that does suit my skills a little more," he said. "I don't know exactly what [Richmond], Virginia [in 2015] is going to be like, but a race like that could be a better suited race for me to be part of the Worlds team."

Rodriguez said that he would love to help Horner in the 2015 championships – when Horner is 45 and Rodriguez is 43.

"Chris has helped me a lot at Worlds in the past," Rodriguez said. "He was my main guy when it was more of a sprinters' race, making sure I got over the climbs and looking out for me in the end. So it would have been nice to be there for him. But it's hard to turn that around. For a sprinter to help a climber is a little different."

For now, Horner will have to compete without his former teammate's help, but Rodriguez still picked the 41-year-old as a possible favorite.

"The way Horner is riding, and he's so smart – if there is any stage racer who knows how to race a one-day race, it's Horner," Rodriguez said. "Having him on the team as a captain is going to be big. It's all about the last 50km of that race and who is still strong at the end, and if Chris has the legs like he did last week, it's going to be hard to match."

Rodriguez also tipped Cannondale's Peter Sagan as a potential candidate for the win. Rodriguez said he spoke with Sagan during the Tour of Alberta to try and get a feel for how hard the Worlds course is.

"I asked him if he liked the course and he said it's a hard course but he's going to try," Rodriguez said. "And if there is any sprinter who is going to make it, it's Sagan. He knows how to buck the odds. If they can't get rid of him in the last 50km, it all depends on how hard those guys go up the climb the last couple of times. If he knows how to float it correctly and save energy, Sagan could still be there."

rickpaulos More than 1 year ago
The worlds is usually a "hard course". It may be a long wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richmond 2015 World Cycling Championships
dhbemis More than 1 year ago
It seems like the UCI throws in a sprinter's course from time-to-time. Copenhagen in 2011 and Limburg, BE in 2002 spring to mind... both won by pure sprinters.
Jancouver More than 1 year ago
Wow! Even more respect to Fast Freddy for giving up his spot! As much I do also respect MiniPhinney, he should also give his spot to another climber because at 6'5" and 190lb he will get dropped on the first climb. JMHO
ranprunty More than 1 year ago
no way phinney will get dropped on the first climb! more like the 6th or 7th.
Brian Handy More than 1 year ago
Phinney might not be there in the finale but he'll certainly be productive for most of the race. We need a big strong guy like him, who can be sent to the front & contribute to controlling breakaways.
WildspokeJoe More than 1 year ago
Huge points for his magnanimous gesture. Nice one Freddie.
montani3semper More than 1 year ago
Smart move, Fast*Freddie.....
Bikenik More than 1 year ago
Met Freddy at the Tour of Alberta, what a cool friendly guy he was, this unselfish team spirit does not surprise me.
Matthew Lab More than 1 year ago
What? Not a single comment mentions doping. How refreshing. All of the those pundits must be busy with the other article about Cookson and Lance Armstrong or cooking up some more PED theories about Horner.
AydinR More than 1 year ago
wrinklyvet More than 1 year ago
Not until you did!
Matthew Lab More than 1 year ago
I know... I was going to mask the word as something like d@p!ng but didn't...
bammbamm1961 More than 1 year ago
Now we just need to get Phinney OUT and Bookwalter or somebody like that in... Phinny climbing 3,000 meters - I don't see it.
unc_sammy More than 1 year ago
Phinney will be needed in the ITT.
SeventhSon More than 1 year ago
Very nice gesture by Fast Freddie! Now, wouldn't it be nice if Talansky did the same in the ITT and surrendered his spot to U.S. Champion Zirbel for the 37 mile Time Trial?
ridingthewave More than 1 year ago
Busche is a great choice. Should have been chosen in the first place.