Avowed non time triallists John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) have managed to keep their respective fourth and fifth positions overall at the Giro d’Italia after completing the final stage in 71st and 40th place. There were 159 participants left at the end of the three-week long event.
“This is almost a victory for me,” Rodriguez told Cyclingnews after crossing the line at Milan's Piazza del Duomo. At the time trial of last year’s Tour de France from Bordeaux to Pauillac, “Purito” finished 154th out of 170 starters and the last rider on the classification was Gadret! At the Vuelta a España one and half month later, the climber from Katusha finished 107th in the 46-km long time trial in Peñafiel and dropped from first to fourth place overall.
If anyone doubted that Rodriguez had really worked on his time trialling, his results can now do the talking. “This is definitely the best flat time trial I’ve ever done,” the Catalan rider said. “I thought I’d do well because I’ve finished the Giro better than I started it. I was confident of keeping my fifth place overall, which is a pretty good result at the end.”
Gadret had a margin of 1:38 over Rodriguez, who was threatened by Roman Kreuziger and Denis Menchov, but the Czech (16th) and the Russian (35th) rode beneath expectations. “I was always informed of my deficit to Rodriguez,” said Gadret, who eventually lost 37 seconds to his rival. “I’m relieved and super happy with my final result at the Giro. It’s been a nice adventure, physically and mentally. I missed out on the final podium but I’m behind three great champions, so there’s nothing for me to regret.”
Gadret said it was a great mental help to be followed by his 4-year old son Andreas – whose second name is Marco in reference to his idol Pantani – who arrived in Milan on Saturday evening with his wife. “She asked me for my room number to call me on the landline. I said 2012, and five minutes later she knocked on my door, it was a great surprise,” Gadret told Cyclingnews.
“I haven’t been getting much media coverage so far,” he added. “Maybe I’ll get more now but I also race for myself and for my family. I knew I was a good climber but this result is probably a bit more than what I expected myself.”
Gadret is only the third Frenchman to make the top 5 of the Giro d’Italia since Laurent Fignon won it 22 years ago. Charly Mottet was second in 1990 and Laurent Jalabert finished fourth in 1999.
“My next target is the Tour of Beijing in October,” Gadret announced on Piazza del Duomo. “I heard this new race will be difficult enough for me and China is a country I’ve always wanted to go to.”
His next race will probably be the Route du Sud, before he goes to the French championship at Boulogne-sur-Mer, only 60 kilometres away from his home in the north of France. “Taking part in the Tour de France is a big question mark,” he added. “To do it and fail wouldn’t be good. I prefer to keep the image of what I’ve achieved here. At this stage, I prefer not to do it and I look forward to coming back to the Giro next year. This race suits me more.”