Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has failed to live-up to his own hopes and expectations for overall success at the Tour de France, but yet again the little Spaniard bounced back from disappointment to win a prestigious Grand Tour stage, this time the final Pyrenean mountain stage to Plateau de Beille, close to his home in Andorra.
“I’ve ridden this climb many times and so it’s great to win the stage here,” Rodriguez said after waving his arms in celebration as he crossed the line in the rain.
“I remember one time that I rode it in training but had a wheel problem and had to call my wife to come and collect us. But even then we came back the next day. That shows how long I’ve dreamt of winning here. Now I’ve finally done it and so it’s really important for me.”
Rodriguez won the steep slopes of the Mur de Huy on stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France and hoped of targeting the yellow jersey or at least a place on the podium. Fellow contenders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had noted how Rodriguez was on form and looking good early in the race. However, the wheels came off his overall ambitions, like it did for so many others, on the climb to La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
“On the first mountain stage I had a nasty hunger knock and that was a big blow to my chances. It also affected me yesterday and I also crashed but my form was good. Unfortunately that’s cycling. One day you can be fighting for the GC and then next, you’re out. I’m not as good as Froome and Quintana but I’m ready to fight if I get a chance like today.”
Rodriguez confirmed he will ride the Vuelta a Espana after the Tour de France. He is convinced he can perhaps challenge for overall victory, despite his run of failures in Grand Tours.
“The Vuelta is a a race I love and I love this year’s route. I haven’t won a Grand Tour but perhaps I deserved to. I’ve had bad luck in the Vuelta and also in 2012 Giro d’Italia. I’ve also been one of the best in the world championships but didn’t win. Maybe I don’t have luck of the champions.
"For now I’m looking for a third stage win at the Tour. It’s going to be hard to get in break on the stage to Mende but I’ll try to win another mountain stage, perhaps in the final week in the Alps.”