By Antonio J. Salmerón
José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) is optimistic of his chances in the Challenge de Mallorca (February 8-12) after his strong start to the season in the Tour Down Under. Rojas finished third overall in Australia.
"In the Tour Down Under I was at a competitive level, better than in previous years. In the sprints we [sprinters] were evenly matched and the sprints were very fast."
Rojas admitted that he had hoped for even more. "I wanted to get closer to a stage win, especially in the penultimate stage, but at least I won the young rider classification and I was on the final podium."
Last year Rojas had a good start to the season when he won the Trofeo Pollença. But the next day he crashed when he sprinted against Philippe Gilbert. "I don't have any physical problem from that crash. I will return to do it once again, because that [crashing] is the risk for the sprinters."
Rojas thinks he can repeat his 2008 victory. "I am in very good shape and after what I have shown in the sprints in the Tour Down Under, I head to Mallorca optimistically."
After that Rojas will race the Clásica de Almería (March 1), but he won't be in the Vuelta a Murcia and hasn't yet decided wether to do Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice. "I think that the finishes in the French race suit me better because they are harder. But it will be up to the team's management. In Tirreno, I also had good performances."
Milano-Sanremo will start his Classics campaign: Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. "I like the Belgian Classics a lot, both for the characteristics of the routes and also for the many people on the road. I hope to improve in these races, which are very important to my team."