Rodriguez close to Katusha contract extension

Joaquim Rodriguez is hopeful that he can reach an agreement to remain at Katusha beyond the end of next season following the replacement of manager Hans-Michael Holczer with Viatcheslav Ekimov.

Immediately after his Tour of Lombardy victory in September, Rodriguez suggested that 2013 might be his final season at Katusha, but he told the EFE news agency at the weekend that talks on an extension were at an advanced juncture.

“We’re already signed up for 2013, and with the change of manager, I guess everything will be better,” Rodriguez said. “We’re negotiating to continue in 2014 and I think and believe that there will be no problem because the negotiations are quite positive. There’s nothing signed yet, but you can almost say that it’s a ‘yes.’”

Hans-Michael Holczer was removed as Katusha manager in October after just one season in charge but Rodriguez does not believe that the German’s departure owed anything to their relationship.

“It’s clear that his departure came about as a result of a number of circumstances but I don’t think it was because he was better or worse for me,” Rodriguez said. “Certainly, I wasn’t the only one who thought that he was doing badly, and someone above him certainly realized that the work he was doing wasn’t suitable.”

After forgoing the Tour de France in both 2011 and 2012 in order to double up at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, Rodriguez admitted that he is considering returning to La Grande Boucle in 2013.

“The good thing is that it doesn’t start with a time trial and that allows it to be more open to me than other years,” he said. “Since this year, I have the possibility of wearing the leader’s jersey, why not?”

Katusha have also intimated that they will leave the final decision on Rodriguez’s programme to the rider himself. “That mean I’ll go with guarantees of getting good results,” he said.



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