As the 2017 season quickly approaches, Joaquim Rodriguez is still uncertain as to whether he will reverse his decision to retire. With just over a month before the new season gets underway he says now erring on the side of racing again, but he wants to be able to give it his all if he does continue and anything less would not be worth it.
"Right now, I have asked myself what the best option is," he told sport.es. "[My goal is] to do an entire year, to look for a race to say goodbye, to try another objective. The key is not about putting a date or fixing myself a calendar. The key to it all is my physical form. If I am capable of returning to good form physically then mentally, it isn't worth it to only do Liege-Bastogne-Liege or the Giro. If I return only to do these and I don't win then it's not worth it.
"The only way that I will return is to see how things go in the first days of training and to return to the rhythm of training, competition and to have the ambition to train. Fortunately, at Bahrain Merida, they are not putting pressure on me. They have said that I can do what I want."
Rodriguez initially planned on making his retirement after the Olympic Games but was then forced to ride on until the end of the season by his Katusha team. His displeasure at being required to continue racing meant that the announcement that he had signed a contract with Bahrain-Merida was a surprise to many. The deal, according to the initial announcement, was for three years with one of those being as a rider before he moved into the team's technical staff.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the team's recent training camp, he said that he was yet to decide if he would actually race in 2017. A race programme is beginning to take shape, however, which would see him make his season start in Argentina at the Tour de San Juan.
"Now, in my head, the idea is to return. I would like that," said Rodriguez. "I have spoken about it with my trainer. The only issue is my form and if I can maintain the level. At the second training camp on between January 4 to 8 in Bahrain, when I go to train with my teammates it will be clearer. Mine will not be a telenovela. I would love to start in Argentina, Tirreno, Catalunya, Pais Vasco and the [Ardennes] Classics."