Joaquim Rodríguez: “I want to prove I’m the strongest and win the Giro d’Italia”
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Joaquim Rodríguez: “I want to prove I’m the strongest and win the Giro d’Italia”

by Ben Atkins at 4:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
‘Purito’ wants to emulate a Spanish climbing legend when the race hits the mountains

joaquim rodriguezJoaquim Rodríguez’ first day in the Giro d’Italia’s Maglia Rosa was a very simple affair for 245 of the 255 kilometres of today’s Assisi to Montecatini Terme stage. The Katusha captain could even be seen, in the more relaxed periods, passing among his teammates, handing out bottles. As soon as it had crossed the finish line, to start the 14.4km finishing circuit however, things became a little more complicated.

“Today’s stage had a very difficult finale, with a big crash at the finish,” said Rodríguez afterwards. “Fortunately, I managed to avoid it.

“Also, there was a difficult climb just before the finish, which was very hard to get over after 250 kilometres; a lot could have happened on the climb. Anyway, so far so good; we will do everything possible to continue to keep the Maglia Rosa. Now we are waiting for the weekend, when we are expecting two very difficult mountain stages.”

Rodríguez was presented with his second Maglia Rosa by Alfredo Martini, the honorary president of the Italian Cycling Federation, and told the post-stage press conference that he intends to try and emulate a past Spanish hero.

“I think I’ve shown I can do well in Grand Tours but I want to prove I’m the strongest and win the Giro d’Italia. I feel really good and so I’d like to win like [José Manuel] Fuente did way back when.”

The late, great Fuente was the big Spanish climbing star of the early seventies, doing battle with the likes of Eddy Merckx in the mountains of the Vuelta a España and the Giro. He took two Vueltas and, although he never won the Giro, he did take the stage to the top of the Stelvio in the 1972 race - thus cementing his lead in the mountains classification - which Rodríguez hopes to emulate.

Rodríguez has been in strong positions in Grand Tours before, but never quite been able to make the podium; so far his best results are a fourth place in each of the Giro and Vuelta. He obviously knows who his main rivals will be, but singles out two-time winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) as one to watch.

“I’m not thinking about if I’m stronger and fresher than Ivan Basso or not,” he conceded. “I know that he’s been unlucky this year with crashes and that he might pay for it in the last week. I know my form is good and don’t think I’ll fade in the last week. I’m confident I’ll be fighting for overall victory at the Giro d’Italia with Basso and the other riders.”


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