Twelve months ago, Joaquim Rodriguez' tears on the podium of the Firenze World Championships expressed better than anything how his best ever chance of taking gold had somehow slipped through his fingers.
Fast forward a year to Ponferrada, and Rodriguez reaction after the Worlds could not have been more different. Despite finishing 33rd, Rodriguez was clearly satisfied with his race and how the Spanish team had performed collectively.
In a context like the Worlds, with so many different interests at stake, actions always speak far louder than pre-race statements of good intention. But watching the race, it was clear that whatever conflict there had been between Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde in the past after the Spanish debacle in Florence was now firmly put behind them.
The two worked coherently as a unit in the closing kilometres of Ponferrada - something which, until the racing got underway, nobody could have been certain would happen.
A huge cheer erupted amongst the Spanish fans at the finish when Rodriguez made one surging attack on the Mirador climb, but as he said afterwards, he was simply blazing a trail and softening up the opposition for Valverde to make the definitive move a few seconds later.
Rodriguez's one regret, in fact, was that the circuit was not as tough as Florence, saying afterwards, “I was almost glad that it rained, because that toughened things up. The circuit wasn’t as hard as we’d anticipated, it was getting very complicated to break the race up and we needed it to be tougher to try and change things.”
Finally, even if there were more riders in the bunch on the final lap than Rodriguez would have liked, the Spanish plan was able to swing into place.
“We did what we had discussed, I had to go for it a little further out than planned but that was the only difference.”
“Alejandro had commented that he wanted to attack more or less where he did in the Spanish nationals this June and to do anything before than wouldn’t make sense. But that’s what the rest of us were there for.”
“The work Dani Moreno did to pull back the break, plus what Jonathan Castroviejo did too, all the team in fact, it was all to the good. Then I attacked to allow Alejandro to go over the top of my move.”
“It was a very complicated circuit for us, so we can’t be unhappy about how it went. Above all, I’m very pleased with how we raced.”