Defending champion Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) will take part in the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, although his sports director Valerio Piva is preaching caution as regards any particular result.
Rodriguez has finished second, second and first in Flèche but his crash in Amstel and the subsequent injuries have left the Katusha rider on the back foot.
“He’s got a big bruise on the back of his left thigh and that’s not good, but we’ll have to see how he can race and how it all goes,” Valerio Piva told Cyclingnews. There are no other injuries.
“He went to the hospital and confirmed there was nothing broken, so he was very pleased about that. But this bruise means damage of some kind and we won’t know what kind of condition he’s really in until he gets into the race.”
“Yesterday [Monday] he simply rested, we did some work with the team kino’ and today he’s just done some light training, felt a bit better.”
Piva said that if even Rodriguez finds the going too tough at Flèche then “he’ll rest up and make a full recovery for Liège, for sure. We won’t take any unnecessary risks. He will make a decision as things go along.”
Asked if it would not be better to skip Flèche altogether, Piva replied “The thing is that these races are Joaquim’s big target for the spring and he’s not going to stop taking part in them just like that. Joaquim’s very determined and he knows what he wants.”
The accident itself happened when Rodriguez was blocked by a crash on a straight section of road, stopped and then something or someone – “we don’t know what, a wheel or a brake” – slammed into the Katusha rider from behind. “He tried to continue racing, got as far as the top of a climb, did a kilometre but was in too much pain to continue and got in a car that was waiting at the feed.” At Flèche Wallonne, Katusha are hoping for a very different outcome.
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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