By Antonio J. Salmerón
Surely the eyes of many fans widened considerably when Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) crashed into the fence during the final sprint of the third day of the Challenge de Mallorca, which he won against the race leader and main rival in the sprint, Belgian Philippe Gilbert.
A first examination in a hospital in Inca, Mallorca, revealed cracks in his right shoulder blade, which meant a minimum of four weeks away from competition. But once Rojas was back in Murcia on the continent, he received further treatment which revealed he actually suffered from a luxation. This diagnosis was more to the liking of the young prodigy, who has now taken up his bike again – first on the rollers, and shortly after already on the road.
Rojas is recovering so well that, just yesterday, the 22 year-old rider said to Cyclingnews, "I will race in the Clásica de Almeria (March 2), where I will test my feelings, and then we will decide which option is better for me: Paris-Nice or the Vuelta a Murcia."
The Caisse d'Epargne rider had planned to participate in Paris-Nice before his accident, but thought about the alternative of the Vuelta a Murcia (March 4-8) once he was injured. In last year's Vuelta a Murcia, Rojas won the first stage and wore the leader's jersey until the third day. Caisse d'Epargne will be sending Alejandro Valverde (2007 winner), Francisco Perez, Vladimir Karpets and José Rujano to Murcia as team leaders.