By Antonio J. Salmerón
Since his participation in the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, the young José Joaquín Rojas of Caisse d'Epargne started to believe in his dream of giving his debut in the Tour de France. "I know I am in the working group that prepares towards the Tour, but not much more." But the 22 year-old wasn't going to be too distressed if he won't make the team. "I go where I have to go. If it's to the Tour, that's great. If not, maybe to the Vuelta, which would be a safe bet in that case [if not invited to the Tour]."
He had the chance to rest and is now preparing for the second half of his season, where a start in the Tour would without a doubt be a brilliant reward. "I train with being in the Tour on my mind, but I think the announcement will only come in the last week before the race. I hope everything goes well, that I don't crash and that I can get a victory until then," Rojas told Cyclingnews.
Initially, his team was contemplating a return for Rojas at the Euskal Bizikleta, but eventually they decided to have him tackle the Tour de Suisse instead. "I want to solve this problem," he said with a smile, explaining the 'problem' of trying to make the Tour team. And the mountainous race offers some possibilities. "In Switzerland, that's where the road to a Tour spot is paved. Last year, we won with Karpets and [Vladimir] Efimkin [now at AG2R La Mondiale] was also leading the race. I need to get some quality race rhythm going, working for the team – of course, if a possibility presents itself, I will have to seize it."
After Switzerland, Rojas will give it a shot at the Spanish national championships. "My objective is to win there, and for that I hope to get out of Switzerland very strongly."
Few riders his age (he turns 23 on June 8, a week before the Tour de Suisse starts) are in the world's top 10 ranking. "I am very satisfied how the season is going, with the exception of those crashes that have prevented me to continue even stronger, like when I crashed into the barriers in the sprint against Gilbert, or other times, when I got boxed in, like in Gent-Wevelgem, where I finished seventh. I came back from Australia with good form, like the victory in Mallorca had shown. What an annoyance! I couldn't participate in Murcia and Paris-Nice. I also couldn't avoid getting hit by a car, when I was training in Cieza. But I want to see me ahead in a sprint with the greats," Rojas emphasised his desire to take out a big win against the fastmen.
All the better if that could be at the Worlds. "I don't think that [national coach] Antequera has a clear picture of the team until very close to the date, and my desire is to give reasons to be there."