With time trial weaknesses less evident, Rodriguez set for a strong Giro d’Italia
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

With time trial weaknesses less evident, Rodriguez set for a strong Giro d’Italia

by VeloNation Press at 12:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Katusha rider developing into a better all rounder

Joaquim RodriguezFourth last year, just over a minute off the podium, Joaquim Rodriguez will seek to continue some very strong season performances when he leads the Katusha team in the Giro d’Italia.

The Spaniard will chase what would be his first top three finish in a Grand Tour, seeking to exploit his strong climbing abilities in the big mountains while limiting his losses via his improving time trial abilities.

Chief directeur sportif Valerio Piva said that he believes the team can have genuine expectations of success. “The Katusha Team will take part to this competition in order to be a protagonist and not just to appear there,” he said. “We have a strong team, as we proved to be during this first part of the season.

“Of course our ambition is the general classification with Rodriguez, as the profile of the routes are suitable to his characteristics and he did a good job last year too, but we have also riders which can win single stages: we think we can do a very good Giro, and we will try to reach the final ITT in Milan on May 27th with a jersey.”

Rodriguez got the year off to a strong start when he placed seventh overall in the Tour of Oman, then won the Offida stage and finished sixth in Tirreno Adriatico. Less than a month ago he took back to back stage victories in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and led the race heading into the final day.

And while he dropped to second overall behind the winner Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi), his sixth place in the final time trial was hugely encouraging for him.

Previously, races against the clock were a major weakness and cost him his chance of podium finishes in the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia.

At the same time he has been improving as a stage race rider, he’s also been building strength as a Classics competitor. He took first in Flèche Wallonne, devastating the peloton with his final burst on the Mur de Huy.

Rodriguez will be backed by a strong Katusha team comprised of Pavel Brutt, Mikhail Ignatyev, Alexander Kristoff, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Gatis Smukulis and Angel Vicioso.

Piva believes the key to performing strong in the overall is to preserve strength until the final part of the race.

"It will be quite an interesting Giro “ he said. “It will be less hard than last year: still, there will be several mountain stages that will be crucial for general classification. Most of them are concentrated in the last, very difficult week, with tough finishing lines in Cervinia, Pian dei Resinelli, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Pampeago and Passo dello Stelvio.

“Riders will face these crucial stages after two weeks, so only the ones who will be in a very good shape and will keep some energy will have some chances to take the pink jersey.’

Katusha is yet to win a Grand Tour but with Rodriguez’ time trial improving and Denis Menchov now on board, it will hope that 2012 can bring it a top three finish at least, if not better than that.

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