Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has made it clear he is ready to go on the attack and light up the decisive mountain stages at the Tour of Oman.
The pocket-sized climber won the mountain stage to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) in 2013 but finished fourth overall to Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Froome is making his season debut in Oman but Rodriguez has already completed the Tour of San Luis in Argentina and the Dubai Tour. With the Giro d'Italia his first Grand Tour objective of 2014, 'Purito' is looking for a solid start to the season before easing back, targeting the Volta Catalunya on his home roads, the Ardennes Classics and then the Corsa Rosa
"I'm pretty happy with my form so far," he told Cyclingnews in Oman before Friday's stage to the Ministry of Housing and Saturday's finish on Green Mountain.
"Perhaps I'm not quite as fit as the same time last year because then my first peak of form was planned for Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This year things are different because I'm targeting the Giro d'Italia. But my forms not bad. I don't know if it's good enough to do something special but for sure we'll be up there."
"I'm up for it and want to win again on Green Mountain. Why not? I don't think Froome is as fit or as lean as he was last year. Contador isn't here either. I won last year and so why can't I win again?"
Rodriguez will be vigilant on Friday's hill finish but is focused on the Green Mountain finish.
"It's the stage that will decide everything," he warned.
"It's a very hard climb, especially so early in the year. The gradient (5.7km at 10.5%) and being so early makes it one the toughest climbs we do all year."
"I like it because it's the final decisive stage, I like it because it's a showdown. Bring it on."
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