Rodriguez leading Katusha in Vuelta a Espana

Joaquím Rodriguez will lead Katusha Team in his quest to win his first Vuelta a Espana, and will be supported by two-time Vuelta winner Denis Menchov. Climber Daniel Moreno will also be there to help his captain in the race.

Rodriguez, 33, finished second in the Vuelta in 2010. Last year he won two stages and wore the leader's jersey for one stage. This year he won the Fleche Wallonne and two stages at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He shone in the Giro d'Italia, finishing second overall and winning two stages.

Menchov, 34, won the Vuelta in 2005 and 2007. He finished 15th in this year's Tour de France. Moreno has won the GP Miguel Indurain, two stages of the Criterium Dauphine and the overall title in the Vuelta a Burgos.

"As usual it will be a very hard Vuelta, especially the uphill finishes, concentrated in the last week, will be crucial. I think we have a very balanced team,” said sport director Valerio Piva. “The leader will be Joaquim Rodriguez, just like in Giro d'Italia, with great riders such as Denis Menchov and Dani Moreno to help him, especially during the climbings. At least, that will be our starting organization: then, looking at our riders' shape and situation, we will see if we should change this setting or not.”

Piva played down Rodriguez' weak time trialling, saying, “the stages against the clock won't be too important: obviously we want to start well in the first team time trial and not to lose time, but with stages such as Los Ancares, Lagos de Covadonga, Cuitu Negro and Bola del Mundo, in the last but one day, in the last week there will be many chances to make the difference".

The Vuelta which opens with the team time trial in Pamplona this coming Saturday, covers 3300 kilometers and features six mountaintop finishes.

Katusha Team for the 2013 Vuelta a Espana: Pavel Brutt, Xavier Florencio, Mikhail Ignatyev, Alberto Losada, Denis Menchov, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez, Gatis Smukulis, and Angel Vicioso

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