Joaquim Rodríguez disappointed but philosophical over lost Vuelta a España lead
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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Joaquim Rodríguez disappointed but philosophical over lost Vuelta a España lead

by Ben Atkins at 4:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
‘Purito’ pays tribute to ‘El Pistolero’ after Fuente Dé defeat

joaquim rodriguezJoaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) fell victim to one of the greatest turnovers in the history of the modern Vuelta a España, as he conceded 2’38” to stage winner Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) on the long, steady climb to Fuente Dé at the end of the 17th stage. That margin saw the Catalan lose the red leader’s jersey that he has held since stage four, and has all but denied him the chance to take the first Grand Tour victory of his career yet again.

“I didn’t expect that,” he said afterwards. “I’m sad because I’ve lost the Vuelta.

Despite his disappointment however, ‘Purito’ paid tribute to Contador, and was well aware of how epic a performance that it had been.

“That’s what we’re here for,” he said. “Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t but it’s sport. The stage to Fuente Dé will make history and I’m proud to be part of it. Contador has demonstrated that he’s the strongest and his team as well.

“When I saw him climbing, the disaster that I was going to encounter didn’t cross my mind,” Rodríguez explained. “We didn’t imagine what was going to happen, no one did. I’ve experienced different states of mind in the last fifty kilometres. From the Collado La Hoz, I thought I would rejoin him on the descent with the help of riders from Movistar but I didn’t.

“Tonight, for sure, it’ll be hard for me to sleep!”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was present with Rodríguez when Contador attacked, but it was not until the Katusha rider had used up his last teammate in Alberto Losada that he made his own move. He jumped away from the group, in pursuit of his own teammates that had been sent ahead in the breakaway, and almost managed to make his way up to Contador at the finish.

“When Contador attacked in the Collado La Hoz, I wait on the Purito’s wheel,” said Valverde. “We were doing a different race.

“Mine consisted in distancing [Team Sky’s fourth place Chris] Froome,” he explained. I had to play my cards. I feel sorry for Purito but that’s racing. I rode the finale flat out. This is one more step towards the podium in Madrid but it’s been a very hard day on the bike.”

The members of the final race podium now looks to be decided, with Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez all having taken further minutes out of Froome to leave the British rider 9’40” down. Contador looks like he may well have the race sewn up, at 1’52” ahead of Valverde, but Rodríguez has one last chance - on Saturday’s Bola del Mundo stage - to take back the 36 seconds he trails the Movistar rider.

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