Having recently won the Tour of Burgos, last years worlds number 1 at the UCI ranking Joaquim Rodriguez will start the Vuelta a Espaa with the ambition of winning the first Grand Tour of his career at the age of 32.
Im not hiding that Im well and that Im going to race for winning, the leader of the Katusha team said from Andorra with five days to go to the inaugural team time trial in Benidorm on August 20. It will be twenty days of stress. Many things can happen but I know that Ive worked the best I could for delivering a better result than last years fourth place overall.
Before and after the Tour of Burgos, Ive trained here in Andorra, Purito continued. I didnt go and reconnoitre many courses of the Vuelta because I know most of them already. I went to see the finale of El Escorial (stage 8) and that will be harder than high mountains! Its necessary to arrive in good shape at the start because the first hills come quickly, with the Sierra Nevada on stage 4 and there wont be many hills during the last week. There will be Pea Cabarga [where he won last year, ed.] and a few attacks by desperate riders but whoever will have the red jersey at the top of the Anglir (stage 15) will have a good chance of winning in Madrid. Itll be hard to recover time after that stage.
As an explosive climber, Rodriguez is very suitable for the climbs of the Tour of Spain but his main problem is the time trial. The 40km to be covered alone around Salamanca on stage 10 will be crucial for him.
My performances against the clock have improved at the Giro and the Dauphin but it doesnt mean that Im becoming a specialist of time trials, commented the Catalan rider who came fifth overall at those two races in May and June. Ive worked for riding better than I did in Peafiel last year. I hope to avoid another disaster like that to happen.
After all the climbs on the menu, Rodriguez was leading the Vuelta prior to the time trial last year but he dropped down to fourth place after losing 6.12 from stage winner Peter Velits and 4.18 from eventual overall winner Vincenzo Nibali on the 46-km flat course.
I want to reach Madrid with my mind free of regrets and worries, Rodriguez concluded. The most important will be to have a good race and to improve the fourth place I got last year. Ive looked at the news about the other riders apparently coming to the Vuelta with good form: Menchov, Nibali, Scarponi, Antn, Brajkovic, Wiggins, etc. Logically, its better for me to not have to compete against Alberto Contador who is very difficult to beat but hes been seen at the Tour de France as someone who is not unbeatable, so it gives more morale to other riders to target the win at a Grand Tour. I go to the Vuelta with the advantage of having a great team around me. I was not the only one from Katusha going well at the Tour of Burgos, Dani Moreno [2nd overall], Joan Horrach, Alberto Losada, etc. were doing well and I got to know that the guys doing the Tour of Poland were also on good form. Everything makes me optimistic.