Rodriguez in uphill battle to find Tour de France fitness

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) says he is slowly building his form for the Tour de France but he has revealed to Cyclingnews that “it’s taking me longer than I would like.”

The 2013 Tour de France podium finisher says he hopes he can turn in strong performances in the mountain stages, particularly in the third week.

It’s been a year of very mixed fortunes for Rodriguez. This spring he won a tough, snow-hit Volta a Catalunya for a second time in his career, beating Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). But a bad crash in the Amstel Gold Race wrecked his Ardennes campaign. The Giro d'Italia went much worse and he was forced to abandon the Italian Grand Tour after suffering broken ribs, a broken finger. He retired from the Giro d'Italia after stage six.

Rodriguez is set to make a return to a race he initially said he would avoid in 2014: the Tour de France. However unlike in 2013, the overall classification is not an objective.

“I’ll be okay for the Tour," Rodriguez told Cyclingnews. "But whilst the injuries I got at the Giro are completely cured now, the healing process took a long time, my form is really uneven as a result and we’ll have to see how I get on when I get to
the race.”

“It’s not going to be straightforward, but my objectives remain the same: support the team leader, and a strong ride in the mountains. I’m going to be building towards the Vuelta, as well, because that is and was my main objective of the second half of the 2014 season. I want to be at 100%. With so many climbs on the route this year it should suit me well.”

“However I don’t want to go to the Tour simply to get the kilometres in my legs. I wouldn’t like that at all, I want to go there to achieve something.”

Rodriguez may take part in one race, the Spanish national championships on Sunday June 29 before going to the Tour de France Grande Depart in Leeds. Despite focusing on his recovery and training, Rodriguez has been keeping an eye on the Tour de France favourites in their respective warm-up races. At the Criterium du Dauphine his Katusha teammates took two stage wins, including one by Yuri Trofimov, penciled in as team leader for the Russian squad in the Tour de France.

“It’s always good to get these wins in, and when you do well it’s great for your morale. But you can’t read too much into results at the Dauphine if you want to predict how the Tour de France will go. It all depends on what your own targets have been there.”

“If I was Alberto Contador, for example, after what I did in the Dauphine I would be extremely happy going into the Tour.”

“Van Garderen didn’t do brilliantly but we should remember that he’s come back from a long spell off the bike and he was building his form there. So his targets in the Dauphine were different to other riders.”

As for whom he would place a hypothetical 100 euro bet on for winning the Tour, Rodriguez said: “I’d put 33 euros each on Nibali, Contador and Froome. I think it’s going to be a very open race until at least the second week.”



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