Victorious in 2012 and a top ten finisher in Flèche Wallonne last year despite crashing in Amstel Gold Race, this time around, Rodriguez came down in the final part of the race when there was a mass pile-up.
Although able to finish, albeit in 70th place, the Catalan was 4:06 down and missing from the finale. After starting as a co-leader, the Russian team’s best finisher was 2013 winner Dani Moreno, in 9th. It was a disappointing result given Katusha’s success in the previous two editions of Flèche Wallonne, as well as the way the team had, together with BMC, done most of the work to keep the race under control on Wednesday.
"He's ok for Sunday, we think, but it was not good – when he crashed the upper part of his body once again got hit the hardest," Katusha sports director José Azevedo told Cyclingnews.
"Somebody went down right in front of him in the crash and he couldn't avoid going down, there was nowhere for him to go."
"He could finish, but these hard knocks take it out of you and he had not had an easy start to the race, either," Azevedo added, pointing out that the ultra-fast pace of this year's Flèche Wallonne, run off at an average of 43.144 kmh, did not exactly help Rodriguez to ease his way back into the action.
Twice second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, most recently in 2013, Azevedo says that he expects Rodriguez to be racing on Sunday, "but this latest accident wasn't great for somebody who's already had one big crash very recently. We hope he'll be ok."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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