Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has not ruled out the possibility of riding the Giro d’Italia in 2011, although the Spanish rider insists that he would again prefer to prioritise the Ardennes classics and the Tour de France in the first half of the season.
“I have a lot of possibilities in front of me but I still don’t know what I’ll do,” Rodriguez told Marca. “The team wants to go for the Giro because they are convinced that I can win it. However, I would prefer to ride the Tour and the Vuelta because I really like the Ardennes classics, and if I ride them at my maximum, it would be difficult to be in shape for the Giro. I will prepare as best as possible and then see.”
Rodriguez finished 2010 at the top of the UCI rankings after a fine season that saw him prominent on all terrains but he admitted that one race inspires him more than any other.
“It’s the classics, and above all Liege-Bastogne-Liege, that I love,” Rodriguez explained. “Fleche Wallone is the one that is best suited to my characteristics – I was second this year behind [Cadel] Evans – but Liege is, in my opinion, the most important one-day race on the calendar, even more so than the Worlds. I have a special affection for it.”
If the highlight of Rodriguez’s 2010 campaign was his clever victory at Mende in the Tour de France, the undoubted low point was the Vuelta a España’s final time trial at Penariel, which saw him lose the overall lead. Rodriguez would eventually finish 4th in Madrid but he is keen to improve on his time trialling ahead of next season.
“The good thing is that I have the bar so low that improvement is easy,” he said. “It will be difficult to do a time trial as bad as that again, where I lost 4:18 to Nibali in 46km. We were separated in the final general classification by 4:22. I have much to improve on.”
Rodriguez has already begun working with the Italian biomechanics expert Alessandro Mariano and has adapted his position to one that is “less aerodynamic but more natural and practical because it allows me to use all of my power.”
The Spaniard has also begun his training on the road in earnest in recent weeks. He will begin his 2011 season at the Mallorca Challenge, before heading on to the Tour of Oman.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.