Rodriguez’ patience being stretched by Katusha situation, says he might leave team
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Rodriguez’ patience being stretched by Katusha situation, says he might leave team

by VeloNation Press at 10:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Catalan rider determined to fight for victory in Tour de France

Joaquim RodriguezAlthough he said earlier this week that he would be staying with the Katusha team, world number one Joaquim Rodriguez has now said that he would be prepared to leave the squad if it is unsuccessful in its fight for a WorldTour licence.

Rodriguez was second in the 2012 Giro d’Italia and third in the Vuelta a España, although he looked very much like the likely winner of that race until a bad day on stage seventeen was exploited by the eventual winner Alberto Contador.

Undeterred by those near-misses, and backtracking on hints that he would likely follow a Giro/Vuelta programme again in 2013, he now states that he wants to focus everything on winning next year’s Tour.

“I want to go to the Tour de France and to fight for the victory,” he told El Periódico de Catalunya. “I know that it’s a very difficult challenge. But next year the French race has a very hilly course that could be extraordinary for me. This is my wish.”

The Katusha squad was unexpectedly turned down for registration on Monday of last week. The UCI Licence Commission has not made public its reasons but there have been suggestions that the problem could be of an ethical nature.

While the team has launched a legal bid with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is hoping for a quick decision, it is impossible at this point to ascertain its chances of overturning that commission’s decision.

“It is a difficult time,” conceded Rodriguez. As regards the Tour, it appears that his resolve has been sharpened by how things turned out in the Vuelta. He had his first Grand Tour victory practically within his grasp, but it slipped through his fingers due to Contador’s stage seventeen attack.

“That defeat still hurts,” he admits. “I’m still turning that over in my head, more than the second place in the Giro…much more than losing the Maglia Rosa on the final day in Milan.”

His agent Angel Edo is clear what would make up for that disappointment; Tour victory. “No matter what, he wants to go to the Tour. Next year’s course is perfect for him. He is 33 years old and he cannot pass up an opportunity like that. You can’t sacrifice the season waiting on an invitation, which would be given in sprint. The preparation for the Giro is completely different than if you put that aside and focus yourself on the Tour.”

Katusha is hoping for a quick decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However long that takes, Rodriguez knows that it is already complicated to move to a different team at this time of the year. His palmares mean that he should have little difficulty in finding a new squad, but it is clear that the team-mates he would like to race alongside next year would likely not be able to accompany him due to a shortage of available slots.

They have greater uncertainty than he does, but that doesn’t make his own frustration any less relevant.


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