By taking third in the bunch sprint in Redon, Movistar's sprinter José Joaquín Rojas carried out the mission his team gave him in the morning's briefing: to capture the green jersey in the Tour de France.
"We expected such a performance from Rojas or Ventoso," directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois told Cyclingnews. "The green jersey is a solace to us. We needed it to feel a bit better after eight riders crashed in the first stage."
The medical bulletin notably reported on Saturday that Andrey Amador, involved in two accidents, suffered from an ankle sprain while Benat Intxausti had an elbow injury. Both riders went to La Roche-sur-Yon for X-rays and were allowed to start again, but they are obviously weakened.
Movistar is also coming to grips with the death of its team leader Xavier Tondó, who perished in a domestic accident in May, and the crash of their climber Juan Mauricio Soler at the Tour of Switzerland. The Colombian, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash, has been taken out of an artificial coma, but is still unable to communicate.
Despite his happiness to get the green jersey, Ledanois says Movistar won't control the race Tuesday to the uphill finish in Mûr de Bretagne. "The favourite tomorrow is Philippe Gilbert. He has a good chance to take the jersey back, so the pressure is not on our shoulders."
Rojas is now leading the points classification with 60 points, ahead of Tyler Farrar (58 pts) and Philippe Gilbert (52 pts). Relegated for their shoulder-to-shoulder bumping in the intermediate sprint, Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish are respectively 4th and 9th in the points ranking.
Movistar isn't particularly targeting the green jersey in Paris, Ledanois said. "Our main goal at the Tour de France is to win stages."
Asked if Rojas can do better than third in a bunch sprint this year, French directeur sportif replied: "Absolutely. It's a mistake to neglect or misjudge him. He's always improving and he can beat the other sprinters before the end of the race. He's really fast and an honest climber. If there are 60 riders in the peloton on a hilly stage, he'll be still there."
Aged 26, Rojas has yet to win a stage in a Grand Tour, but he only rode the Giro d'Italia once (2007) and the Tour de France twice (2009, 2010). This year he notched one stage victory at the Tour of Catalonia and recently claimed the Spanish Road Championship. That latest victory is remembered as particularly emotional, as it occurred 15 years after the death of his elder brother and one month after the loss of Tondó.
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