Joaquim Rodríguez’s heart must have sunk into his Sidi shoes as he saw Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) fly past him on La Planche des Belles Filles. The Katusha rider looked set to take his second Tour de France stage victory but a stinging attack from the Italian meant that his efforts came to nought.
“I thought that I could win, that was my intention. More or less I felt good but I was missing something to be able to follow Nibali. He passed me like an aeroplane,” Rodríguez said at the finish. “It was a really hard stage and I’m sad that I couldn’t win, but Vincenzo was so much faster. I was dying, it was impossible to follow him.
“There are more opportunities. There are more summit finishes and I have some days to recover.”
There was some consolation for Rodríguez, who moved into the lead of the mountains classification. Rodríguez was aggressive right from the off on stage 10, making it into the break. Classification leader Tony Martin set off in chase, but the Spaniard was able to hoover up more than enough points in the early climbs to put him in the driving seat.
Rodríguez had been on the attack the day before, after keeping a low profile during the first week. The Katusha rider came to the Tour de France after injuring himself at the Giro d’Italia in May. With the Vuelta a España his next big target, Rodríguez and the team have chosen not to contest the general classification. At the finish Rodríguez reiterated his intention to take home the polka dot jersey.
“I’ve said it more than once that I would like to fight for the mountains classification, this is an objective that I like most, apart from that I would like to win a stage,” explained Rodríguez.
Rodríguez also had a few words about his fellow countryman and friend Alberto Contador. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider crashed heavily during the stage, apparently hitting a pothole and losing control on the wet roads. Contador later abandoned the stage with a fractured tibia. It is likely that the two will now face off at the Vuelta at the end of August.
“The truth is that we’ve had some bad weather,” said Rodríguez. “It’s like, we have had it in the Giro d’Italia and now it is the same in the Tour. I only hope that he can recover and come back quickly.”
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