Joaquin Rodriguez praised his Katusha teammates and fired a warning shot to his overall Vuelta a España rivals after he won atop the steep finish in Valdepeñas de Jaén.
‘Purito’ Rodriguez completed back to back stage victories for the Russian team after Daniel Moreno won on the Sierra Nevada on Tuesday and praised the way his teammates rode hard for much of the stage to control the breakaways and set him up for victory.
“Katusha has never hidden the fact that we’re here to win the general classification but we know there are still a lot of stages (to go) and our rivals are strong and well-organized. I just want to enjoy these two wins, which are all the team’s merit: for everything else there’s still plenty of time," Rodriguez said in a statement from the Katusha team.
"We knew it would have been a very hard stage to win and the fact that the breakaway consisted of strong riders made things even more complicated. It wasn’t easy to catch them: the team did excellent work once again, allowing me to fight for the win. The last kilometre was really spectacular. It was like a big Belgian classic with a huge crowd. Everyone was yelling “Purito!”
Rodriguez gained eight precious seconds on some of his key overall rivals and much more than that on others. He moved to third overall, 23 seconds down on Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Moreno is even closer in second place, just nine seconds back.
“I’ve achieved more than I expected with the gap I created over my adversaries in such a short distance,” Rodriguez said.
“I don’t think I have spent more energy than the others though. Everyone will be tired after such a stage. It’s often said in cycling that the winners are less tired than the others because of their high morale.”
“It’s not a surprise for me to do this because I’ve said since the beginning of the Vuelta that I was here for the win. I’m satisfied with where I’m standing on GC. Most of the favourites are still in contention with no big time differences."
Last year Rodriguez lost four minutes and any chance of victory in the Vuelta on the key time trial stage around Peñafiel. This year he is more confident about his consistency.
“Many things can change, as we saw last year with the time trial. But I expect to stay at the same level in the mountains until the end of the Vuelta,” he warned.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.