José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) is set to make his return to racing at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon next week. The former Spanish champion fell in the neutral zone of Milan-San Remo, at the end of March. Examinations showed that he had fractured his left elbow and wrist and he has been out of action since the first major Classic of the season.
For Rojas, the road to recovery has been arduous. “It has been a long time. As there was no possibility to operate on it, the rehabilitation has been prolonged,” he said.
Rojas has been working hard to get himself back on the bike and has used a range of methods, including acupuncture and magnet therapy – which involves wearing a magnet on the body to improve blood flow. It is the second time this season that the 28-year-old has had to come back from injury. He was one of two Movistar riders to be sent home early from the Tour Down Under. Giovanni Visconti broke his leg during the People’s Choice Classic, before the race began. Two days later, Rojas took a tumble on the opening stage and fractured his right wrist. While he was able to finish the stage, Rojas decided not to start the next day.
Between the two accidents, Rojas was able to compete in a small handful of races. He looked to be coming into form with fourth in the general classification at Paris-Nice before he fell at Milan-San Remo.
“The two crashes have disrupted my initial programme,” explained Rojas. “It was a shame, because in Paris-Nice I was going very well and I really wanted to race at Gent, Flanders and Roubaix. But, you have to be positive and I am going to arrive at the Tour de Feance very fresh and very eager.”
Rojas will be at the Tour de France to ride in support of Alejandro Valverde but, as a sprinter, there may be some opportunities for his own stage victory. Rojas is never won a stage of a Grand Tour. However, in 2011 he pushed Mark Cavendish hard in the points competition eventually finishing in second – 62 points behind Cavendish. Rojas dismisses any thoughts of going for the competition again, instead he is going to give his full backing to his team leader.
“It is a very difficult objective and it also involves a dedication from the team. We have a leader like Alejandro, with whom there's a good chance of winning,” he said. “Alejandro is one of the best in the sport at the moment. Many people have seen the season that he is having at the moment, the races that he’s won, he is showing a lot of hunger. I have been training a lot with him and I am not surprised at all."
“I think that this year he is believing in himself again, that his confidence has returned and he has a lot of ambition and dedication to race. I have a lot of faith in him. He will do a great Tour and I am going to be beside him, supporting him in any way I can.”