Joaquim Rodriguez prolonged the pleasure of the Giro d'Italia by winning the last two mountain stages, the king of the mountain competition and the points classification of the Criterium du Dauphiné. He also finished fifth overall, the same ranking as at the Giro.
The Spaniard from Katusha rode the Dauphiné for the first time at the age of 32, one year after participating to the Tour de France for the first time, and winning the uphill finish of stage 10 to Mende. This is one of the few surprising parts of Purito's career, as he obviously missed a few important things during his first nine years as a pro, although he always rode for big teams: ONCE, Saunier Duval and Caisse d'Epargne before joining Katusha last year and finishing the 2010 season with the title of world's number one rider according to the UCI.
"This has been for sure the nicest week of my cycling career so far, in terms of condition and sensations," Rodriguez commented after the race. "I had never done the Dauphiné before because I was often at the Giro and the only year I've done the Tour de France, I went to the Tour de Suisse as in preparation. Maybe I should have come to this race earlier because it suits me at perfection."
Twenty-four hours after claiming the queen stage to Le Collet d'Allevard on what was on Saturday a special family day with the visit of his parents and the birthday of his three-year-old son Pablo, the Catalan rider attacked impressively with 700 metres to go to the finish of La Toussuire.
"I knew this hill because on the eve of the prologue of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, we were staying at a hotel in La Toussuire," Purito told Cyclingnews. "When I first had a look, I went the wrong way, so after the prologue, I asked my team to get me a road bike and I rode uphill back to the hotel to get a clear picture of the finale. That's why I knew it was useless to attack from far out. Many guys tried to break away [Robert Gesink, Chris Anker Sørensen, ed.] but it was always going to be decided in the last kilometre. I went very strongly, exactly where there were 400 metres of the steepest gradient."
"I came to the Dauphiné for a stage win and now I got two! Now I can go on holiday," said Rodriguez who will enjoy a full week on the Costa Brava with wife and kids but without any bike, phone and laptop. When he resumes training, he'll continue to work on his time trialling. From disastrous results last year, like 154th out of 170 riders at the Tour de France from Bordeaux to Pauillac, he moved up to 40th out of 159 participants at the closing time trial of the Tour of Italy two weeks ago and 59th position out of 175 at the Dauphiné.
"I'm not good yet," Rodriguez said. "I'm not able to time trial at the same level as the best Grand Tour riders but I'm not as bad as last year. It's encouraging. I'll have to ride well at the time trial of the Vuelta a España in Salamanca. If I don't lose more than two or three minutes there, I can't lose the overall ranking because I'm confident that I'll gain more than that in the mountains."
The Vuelta is Purito's next big goal, as he aims at approaching the top of the world tour ranking again this year. After the Giro and the Dauphiné, he's fifth – like his overall position in these two stage races – with 288 points, behind Philippe Gilbert, 356, Alberto Contador, 349, Michele Scarponi, 348, and Cadel Evans, 314.