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José Joaquín Rojas pushes for national team spot

Rojas in March

Rojas in March (Image credit: Caisse d'Epargne)

By Antonio J. Salmerón

José Joaquín Rojas has always been present in the lower categories of the Spanish national teams as a leader. The last time was in the 2005 World Championships in Madrid and that was also was the last season as an U23 rider on the Würth squad. Rojas realized that, taking into account National DS Paco Antequera could have better riders, such as Oscar Freire and Alejandro Valverde, he would have to wait a few years time to be summoned by Antequera. Nevertheless, his name had already been sounded for the World Championships in Salzburg, last year, when the 21 year-old made his professional debut.

"Too much too soon for a cyclist still to be polished, but one with a great future," Antequera justified the rider's 2006 absence. But, the comment of U23 National Directeur Sportif Juan Carlos Martin, who assured that "Rojas rides in a similar style as Freire," had a great repercussion through the Spanish Federation.

Now, after seeing him in the fight with the best sprinters in some of the most important races, like the recent Deutschland Tour, with the cleverness and ability, the name of Rojas appears again. He could be the perfect 'hidden' rider that could take advantage of the attention that will focused on the trident of Freire, Valverde and Samuel Sánchez. "It would be wonderful. It would be like a dream come true that would overwhelm me with happiness," Rojas noted to Cyclingnews.

"I have demonstrated my abilities to confront big races, but also it is clear that some of them [Freire, Valverde and Sánchez] deserve respect, as much by quality as by maturity, so it would not matter to me to act as an outsider. Another thing is that, a hypothetical possibility [of winning] allows to me to play my tricks," Rojas continued with composed optimism.

The fact that the Caisse d'Epargne will not field him in the Vuelta a España and that Antequera usually grants priority to those who dispute it would seem to hamper his chances of making the national team. "I have an alternative calendar until October," Rojas indicated on his focused drive towards Stuttgart. "I can be very optimistic because this season has not yet finished."

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