Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez has said that he still believes he can win a Grand Tour despite failing to make the podium at last year’s Giro and Vuelta, which both featured courses that should have suited a climber of his ability. Currently racing in the Tour of Oman, where he is hoping to be in contention for his first win of the season in Saturday’s stage to Green Mountain, the 32-year-old Spaniard insists that all he’s been missing is some good fortune.
“That little bit of luck [is what I’ve been lacking], because I’ve gone close in just about all of the Classics that suit me, and I also think that the podium of a three-week race is within my reach, that I can even win one,” he told AS. “Victory in a top Classic and a stage win in the Giro to add to those that I’ve taken in the Tour and Vuelta would round out my palmarès nicely. You’ve always got to be ambitious.”
The diminutive Spaniard selected Flèche Wallonne as the Classic he is most likely to win, but said he would prefer to taste victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “Flèche suits me better, but I would love to win Liège. However, this year there will be a lot of competition especially now that Alejandro Valverde has returned, although it’s always the strongest man who wins. I’ve got a million and one places of honour, including the Worlds, San Sebastián and Lombardy. What I need is the big win to top these off,” he said.
Rodríguez will turn 33 in May, but feels that he’s still got another four or five good years ahead of him, especially as he came so late to team leadership at Katusha after years working as a domestique at ONCE, Saunier Duval and Caisse d’Epargne. “I did have some opportunities in those teams, but in life you’ve got to evolve steadily. Until I signed with Katusha I didn’t think I had the capacity or the quality to be a leader… but now I’ve got the maturity you need. There’s no doubt that being on this team has changed my life. They’ve given me their total support and confidence, which has enabled me to act as a leader,” he said.
Rodríguez, who is focusing once again on the Giro and Vuelta, was also asked about his promotion to a podium finish at the 2010 Vuelta following the disqualification of Ezequiel Mosquera from second place overall. “Well, I’ve got a third place that year on my palmarès now even though I didn’t get the chance to enjoy that success on the final day of the race. The real shame though is the amount of time it took before the final resolution was reached. That’s not a good situation for anyone,” he said.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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