Rodriguez psyched for Liège and by new Katusha contract
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rodriguez psyched for Liège and by new Katusha contract

by VeloNation Press at 8:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Flèche Wallonne winner speaks about ambition for his ‘favourite race’

Joaquim RodriguezAlready on a confidence high following his victory in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, Joaquim Rodriguez has said that he has drawn additional motivation from the extension of his current contract with the Katusha team.

The Spaniard announced yesterday in Reimst, Belgium, that he will remain with the team for a further year, competing in its colours until at least the end of 2013.

“I feel very comfortable within Katusha and The Russian Global Cycling Project. The team gives me its support and the opportunities to realize my dreams as a rider,” he said. “Therefore, the contract extension is logical.”

Rodriguez moved to the squad at the end of a successful 2009 season with Caisse d’Epargne. He took wins that year on stages of Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Burgos, and was also third in the world road race championships and seventh in the Vuelta.

Katusha was looking for a rider who could perform in both stage races and tough one day events, and he fitted in well with those aspirations. He quickly stepped up a level in 2010, winning the Volta a Catalunya, the GP Miguel Indurain and a stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, placing second in Flèche Wallonne, thid in the Vuelta a Espana and seventh in the Tour de France.

Last year was another good one with several victories, including two stages in the Vuelta and the overall at the Vuelta a Burgos, plus runner-up slots in both the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.

The latter results sharpened his resolve to finally win one of the Ardennes Classics, and he pulled that off on Wednesday with a dazzling final ascent of the Mur de Huy.

Now he’ll try to do the same in Liège-Bastogne-Liège tomorrow. He said that the Katusha deal gives him additional focus, as do his feelings about the event.

“It´s definitely my favorite race, even more than World Championships or big stage races,” he explained. “I don´t know why, but since I was a child I considered this ´Ardennes Classic races´ week the season´s climax. Especially ´Liege-Bastogne-Liege" – that has always been my dream: a dream I went close many times, a dream I may have fulfilled before if I was the leader of a team.

“For example, in 2006, I was in a breakaway with Michael Boogerd: if I helped him in the escape, I think I could win because I was faster in these kind of sprints. Instead, my orders were to help Alejandro Valverde: so I didn´t help the Dutch rider, Valverde reached us and in the end he won. Anyways, now I´m the leader, and I can do my best in order to win.”

The team’s Katusha’s general manager Hans-Michael Holczer said he was pleased that the team’s most successful rider would continue to be a part of the setup.

“Purito is one of the best riders in the world and plays an important role for Katusha and the whole Project,” said the German. “Therefore, it is good for both sides to provide the early foundations for the future.”

Rodriguez will be backed tomorrow by Oscar Freire, who went within 100 metres of winning the Amstel Gold Race, plus Xavier Florencio, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez, Yuriy Trofimov, Angel Vicioso and Eduard Vorganov.


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