The rider who dominated the 2012 Vuelta a España until the middle of the third week, Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) says he is determined to bounce back in this year's race despite his poor time trial showing and lower-than-hoped-for placing on general classification.
Rodriguez lost 3:01 on Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and - more importantly - 1:35 on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 1:06 on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) over the 38km test, and overall is now fifth at 2:33.
"The overall classification has become very difficult now thanks to [yesterday's] poor result," Rodriguez said before the stage. "It was a chaotic time trial, to the point where I even ended up running out of water."
However, Rodriguez's morale will be boosted when the race enters his home region of Catalonia today on stage 12, with a full stage on Catalan soil on Friday for stage 13, and then another running from Catalonia into Andorra, the country in which he now lives, on Saturday. Today is likely to end in a bunch sprint, but tomorrow has a short, sharp uphill finish that could well be to Purito's liking, and Saturday ends on the Collado de la Gallina, where Rodriguez trains regularly.
"Let's see if I can turn things around here on the roads I know well," Rodriguez, third in last year's Vuelta and third in the Tour de France this summer, said. He also said he would not have to look far for allies to upset the status quo in the GC.
"The good news is that this is my terrain and [Ivan] Basso (Cannondale) and [Domenico] Pozzovivo (AG2R) are both in good shape, both climbers and both will want to help break the race apart."
"Let's see if the riders higher up start falling down. I've lost a lot of time, but there are a lot mountain stages to go."
Rodriguez can perhaps draw encouragement that Nibali named him and Valverde as his two principal rivals for victory in Madrid on September 15th.
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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