"I had done my attack, I had played my card," Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) told Cyclingnews after he finished second for the second time in his career at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And once he had played that card, the Spanish all-rounder said he just could not stop Daniel Martin (Garmin Sharp) from attacking just before the final left-hand bend into Ans.
"Making that last move and attacking from the break was the one strategy I had to try and get away, and it almost worked out. I tried it in the right place. But I knew that Dan was a very strong opponent, we've run into each other a lot of times before" - most recently at the Volta a Catalunya, where Martin beat Rodriguez by 17 seconds - "and as soon as he came across I knew it was going to be tough."
"I can be disappointed, but I was at my limit, Daniel was stronger and that was all there was to it." He actually initially thought it was Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) bridging across "and I thought I'd have a better chance in the sprint. When I realised it was Martin, and I saw how easily he'd reached me, I realised he could beat me, too."
Injured at Amstel Gold, to his credit Rodríguez refuses to play the game of 'ifs' and 'buts' when it comes to racing in Liège and his performance there - and when discussing the race, he does not even mention that injury to Cyclingnews. He also played down the importance of Ryder Hesjedal's late attack in Garmin's winning strategy, saying "by that point in the game at Liège-Bastogne-Liège we were all pretty exhausted. In a three-week Tour, you can point to one mistake or another in terms of strategy, but that's not the same in a Classic like Liège. There comes a point where you've either got it or you haven't. The race was different because of the Roche aux Faucons being changed for that new climb, but we just had to give what each of us had and see what happened."
The 2012 UCI WorldTour winner Rodríguez is now heading to Silverstone in Great Britain to the Formula One circuit's windtunnel, to try and improve his position in time trialling for the grand tours.
"That's the main reason for going there, but as it happens I've never been to Britain, so I'm very keen to see what it's like as a country," he added. After that Purito will take a break before building up for his next big challenge, the Tour de France - the only grand tour in which he has yet to take a podium finish and after the Ardennes his big goal for the season.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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