José Rujano is again a stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, six years after his fabulous ride of 2005. The Venezuelan acknowledged that his return to the team that made him famous, now called Androni Giocattoli-C.I.P.I. was the key ingredient to his successful come back on Italian roads.
For the second time in the Giro, he accompanied Alberto Contador when the wearer of the pink jersey accelerated on the Grossglockner.
"I already wanted to win on the Etna but I had a mechanical with 1.6km to go", Rujano explained of stage 9 where he finished second.
"It’s an honour to climb and finish for the win with such a great champion who has won the Giro, Tour[s] and a Vuelta.
"We made an agreement to ride together - I’d help him to create the biggest gap possible and he’d let me win the stage. I’m very happy to win after all the problems I’ve had since 2005."
In 2006, Rujano was signed by Quick Step and left Gianni Savio’s then team [Colombia-Selle Italia] in the middle of the Giro d’Italia. He pulled out with 3km to go into a mountain stage in the Valle d’Aosta where his agent Giuseppe Acquadro was waiting for him. "There were a lot of problems [that year], I also had to ride the Tour de France", Rujano tried to justify at the top of the Grossglockner. "Let’s leave that behind." That episode was only the starting point of a reputation that the Venezuelan was difficult to deal with but Androni team boss Gianni Savio thinks the Venezuelan may have finally turned a page in his career.
"He has admitted his mistakes", Savio noted. "Every young person can make mistake but he has reached a psychological and physical balance now, so he deserves all the credit for his come back."
Androni Giocattoli-C.I.P.I.’s team manager echoed Rujano’s own comments that the team and rider are working well together, as they have in the past.
"I’m really happy to work with them again", Rujano insisted. "They know how to talk to me, especially when I have a hard time."
In fact, Savio and Franco Bellini seem to be the only ones able to get good performances out of Rujano. The Venezuelan’s former teams; Quick Step, Unibet, Caisse d’Epargne and ISD have all systematically failed, and not withstanding his Le Tour de Langkawi victory with ISD, results have been few and far between.
"Tomorrow is another big mountain stage with the Zoncolan to finish", Rujano said. "If I have the same condition as today, I’ll try and win again. Now I’d like to win another stage and move up to third on GC like in 2005." The 29 year old Venezuelan whose height is 1.62m and weight 48.5kg lost five minutes to the favourites on the strade bianche in stage 5 to Orvieto and now sits 5:57 back from Contador.
"Rujano is the biggest talent we’ve had in the 27 years of existence of this team", Savio continued.
"His successful career can re-start from today."