Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was feted in his hometown of Parets de Valles on Tuesday evening following his second-placed finish at the Giro d’Italia, and the Catalan rider was stoical as he pondered his narrow defeat to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).
Rodriguez carried the pink jersey into the final day of racing and put up fierce resistance in the concluding time trial in Milan, ultimately missing out on the top step of the podium by just 16 scant seconds. Such a slender margin naturally leads one to wonder where Rodriguez might have recouped the necessary seconds over the course of the three weeks.
“Once you cross the finish line, you can’t look back,” Rodriguez insisted, according to EFE. “16 seconds is nothing and at the same time, it’s everything. Perhaps I made an error at Pampeago in leaving the responsibility to [Ivan] Basso and not going with Ryder.”
Rodriguez has opted to forgo the Critérium du Dauphiné and his next major goal is the Vuelta a España, which gets underway on August 18. On a course replete with short, sharp summit finishes, Rodriguez is expected to be the principal challenger to Alberto Contador, who returns from suspension just ahead of the race.
“Alberto will be the clear favourite and it will be very difficult to beat him because he is very complete,” he said. “There are a lot of riders for the GC and Alberto will have a lot of responsibility.”
Rodriguez also ruled out the possibility of lining up at the Olympic Games road race in London, although he should be among the riders vying for leadership of the Spanish team at the world championships in Valkenburg, along with Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez.
“Every rider would like to compete [in the Olympics], but it’s such a flat course that it’s not suited to me,” he said. “Spain will only have five riders and it’s best to have a good team there to try and win the Olympics again.”