Rodríguez: the time trial was the key

Joaquím Rodriguez (Katusha) could have won the Vuelta a España and finally concluded the race in third place, but the Catalan all-rounder says he is still satisfied with a season which is far from over and in which he’s been the only rider to take two podium finishes in grand tours.

Second in the Giro behind Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and third in Madrid behind Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Rodríguez says he can only be satisfied with a season in which he’s also taken the Flèche Wallone, five Grand Tour stages (three in the Vuelta and two in the Giro) and stages in both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country.

“I raced calmly and didn’t get too rash in any of my attacks because I was trying to win [overall],” Rodriguez told the newspaper AS on Sunday, “and it was never too easy to follow Alberto because he would wear you out with those attacks.”

“Still, just as I’d gone for it in Barcelona (stage nine), the Gallina (stage eight) and on the Mirador de Ezaro, I went for it on the Bola del Mundo. I wanted to finish second but it didn’t work out.”

He said it was only right that Contador had won. “There’s no doubt he was the best. We have to congratulate him for the whole three weeks. He tried [to get the lead] every day and he pushed me to the limit. Then at Fuente Dé [stage 17] we couldn’t follow him. He deserves the win.”

The day which marked a turning point for Rodríguez was, he told AS, “the time trial [stage 11], but it was a good moment. When you’ve had such a miserable time as I have had in previous time trials, you brace yourself to lose the jersey and just in doing a respectable time.”

“But in the end I kept the lead and it was almost like a victory. I lost it in Fuente Dé, but you can’t do anything when somebody’s stronger than you, there’s no point in getting worked up about it.”

“When I had the lead, and with two [previous] podium finishes in the Vuelta [2010] and the Giro [2012] you only think about winning. But I have to be satisfied with this. I gave it everything and Contador and Valverde raced phenomenally well.”

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