Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has admitted that he has reached the midpoint of the Vuelta a España further behind in the general classification than he had anticipated before the race, but the Catalan looked to sound an optimistic note about his chances of overall victory.
While Rodriguez has been consistent through the first half of the Vuelta, he has so far been unable to put time into his rivals on the short, sharp summit finishes that are his favourite terrain, and he enters Wednesday’s stage 11 time trial in 5th place overall, 1:40 down on the red jersey of Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).
“It’s not that I’ve been missing anything up to now, it’s that I have strong rivals,” Rodriguez said, according to the EFE news agency. “Horner is very strong, as is [Vincenzo] Nibali, who is very motivated to come back and win the Vuelta.”
After finishing the Tour de France in third place, Rodriguez was widely viewed as one of the principal favourites for overall victory at the Vuelta, particularly given the presence of no fewer than eleven summit finishes on the parcours.
“I haven’t been able to get away and the truth is that that I haven’t had a chance to win. I’m not at the point that I hoped, but I’m sure that it will come,” he said. “I have to hope that my rivals come down a bit, as up to now they have been superior."
“I haven’t been holding anything back up to now, quite the contrary. I would have counted on being higher than fifth now but I’m not pessimistic because we certainly still have possibilities.”
Rodriguez will be on the defensive in the time trial but he can draw hope from the improvements he has made as a time triallist since his disastrous ride at Penafiel in 2010 cost him all hopes of overall victory at the Vuelta.
“I want to do a time trial like the one I did in Pontevedra in 2012 [when he lost just over a minute and defended the red jersey],” Rodriguez said, according to AS.
“The climb in this Tarazona course is longer than the one last year and the good thing is that this time trial comes at a time when a lot of riders are tired. I have improved a lot in the time trial and I hope not to lose too much time.”