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Rodríguez back in "lucky room 11" for Ardennes Classics

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Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha celebrates after winning the Fleche Wallonne

Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha celebrates after winning the Fleche Wallonne (Image credit: AFP)
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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) (Image credit: Pasados de Volta)

If Joaquim Rodríguez has insisted on staying in room 11 of his Katusha director Valerio Piva's hotel near Liège this year, that could be understandable. Known as "the lucky room", room 11 of Piva's hotel is the one Mario Cipollini used before winning the 2003 Worlds, that Michele Bartoli stayed in twice before winning Liège - Bastogne - Liège in the 1990s, where Moreno Argentin slept every time before winning here between 1985 and 1991, and which both Flèche Wallonne winners Kim Kirchen and Rodriguez himself used, too, in 2008 and 2012. (For the record, Rodríguez is rooming with Dani Moreno this week.)am

Rodríguez describes the Ardennes week as his favourite of the year. So far his track record of top three places in the Ardennes Classics is a first place and two seconds in Flèche Wallonne, second in Amstel in 2011 and second in Liège - Bastogne - Liège in 2009.

Partly thanks to the change to the Amstel Gold Race finale, with its longer, flat section after the Cauberg, Piva says that he thinks Liège - Bastogne - Liège could well suit 'Purito' better than the Dutch Classic. But he's still confident that the 2012 Lombardia winner will be a contender on Sunday.

"They got rid of a hard climb [Cote de Roche Aux Faucons] in Liège, but the climbs are that much longer, so it's still a better option for him than Amstel."

"On top of that, having what was basically a summit finish in Amstel was better for him, now it's going to be much more wide open, people can get back on after the Cauberg. It's a more open race."

In Rodriguez's favour at Amstel though, is that "you've got to look at it as a whole, not just the last couple of kilometres after the Cauberg.

"You've got to look at the fact they've locked in more tough climbs in the last part. The favourites may well not wait until the Cauberg now, you may well get a big group sheering off on one of the last climbs. People aren't going to want to wait for Peter Sagan to finish them off in a big group going for the line. The one thing we can't do is wait for a sprint.

"Moreno and Purito have both done training at altitude [in the Canaries] rather than the Vuelta al País Vasco, and they're in good shape, and Amstel is his first big goal of the year. But I think he's thinking more about Liège than Amstel."

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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, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.