Katusha push Rodriguez for top-five

Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)

Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)

The Katusha team captured a stage win with Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver earlier in the Tour de France at Mende and the Spaniard is also in the mix for a good result in the general classification. However, the Spaniard aside, the team haven’t had a successful Tour, with Robbie McEwen, suffering from illness and crashes. Directeur sportif Sergio Parsani explained to the media about the team’s remaining goals for the final week.

“We have Rodriguez who's well ranked in the general classification [currently eighth at 5'45” from Contador]. It would be good to place him in the top-five. We already won a stage. Now we have to wait and see. There are three very difficult mountain stages left. I expect the GC riders to take things in hand during those stages.

“Afterwards there's the stage to Bordeaux for the sprinters. McEwen was unlucky with his crash early on in the Tour. He's keen on doing a couple more sprints in the Tour. There are two chances left: in Bordeaux and Paris. We will try,” Parsani told Cyclingnews.

When describing his team leader, Parsani acknowledged the weaknesses of Rodriguez on the longer climbs, knowing that his specialty are the intermediate steep climbs, like those featuring during the Ardennes classics in April. “He's a good climber, especially on difficult 'côtes' [the shorter climbs in the Tour de France] that include steep parts. The climbs in the Pyrenees are long and he's better in the climbs that are only steep for three to four kilometres long.”

When asked whether the 31-year-old Rodriguez had a chance of grabbing that fifth place with his capabilities, Parsani said the Tour de France is different. “We started with two leaders: Karpets and Rodriguez for the general classification. It was too bad to see Karpets abandon when he was confronted with a broken hand, forcing him to pull out on the rest day.

“So we're putting all our hope on Rodriguez and we hope that he can follow the best during the remaining mountain stages. Rodriguez already rode both the Giro and the Vuelta on several occasions but it's his debut at the Tour de France. The Tour's different for several reasons: different roads, more stress, better rivals. We were confident he could ride a good Tour. He's right there now and we hope he can make it into the top 5.”

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