Joaquim Rodríguez: "I think I did an almost perfect race” in Liège-Bastogne-Liège
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Joaquim Rodríguez: "I think I did an almost perfect race” in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

by Ben Atkins at 2:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
 
Katusha captain foiled by Dan Martin’s late counterattack in la Doyenne

joaquim rodriguezJoaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) was one of the most active and attentive riders in today’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but was to be denied victory in the final few hundred metres by a late counterattack from Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp). The Catalan’s team was part of most of the late attacks in the race; getting Giampaolo Caruso into the group that formed on the Côte de Colonster with less than 20km to go - from which Martin’s teammate Ryder Hesjedal attacked soon afterwards - and Rodríguez himself bridged across to the Canadian on the final climb of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

Despite the presence of two Garmin-Sharp riders in the final, six-man group, it was Rodríguez that made what looked like the race winning move with just over a kilometre to go. Martin was the freshest rider in the group, however, and managed to catch and pass the Katusha rider on the long drag to the finish.

"I think I did an almost perfect race, thanks also to my team,” said Rodríguez afterwards. “We adopted a very smart strategy, in my opinion, and we did our best in order to win.

“I started my attack in the best place, but Martin was able to catch me very quickly and pass me in the last hundred metres,” he explained. “At first, I thought it was [Lampre-Merida’s Michele] Scarponi, so I thought I would have a good chance in the final sprint. But when I realised it was Martin - and how easily he managed to catch me - I understood that he was going to be able beat me.”

Rodríguez’ has been a mixed Classics season, after a crash in Amstel Gold threatened his very participation in Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He managed sixth in Flèche, as the defending champion - behind his winning teammate Dani Moreno - then matched his best-ever finish in Liège.

The Catalan rider has a long way to go to defend his WorldTour championship, however, and is now looking forward to targets ahead.

“Now I'll rest a little bit, then I'll get ready for the Tour de France, my next goal.”

Rodríguez’ luck at the finish may have been different if compatriot and teammate Moreno had not crashed at the foot of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, just as the peloton began to accelerate. The Flèche winner was unharmed in the incident - although he was forced to take time to straighten his bars - but he was to play no further part in the race, and was unable to help his team captain in his bid for victory.

"I'm sorry, I was really unlucky today,” he said after the race. “I crashed before Saint-Nicolas and I couldn't get my handlebar straight, so I lost a lot of time there. I'm sure without that accident we would have been two from Katusha ahead, and maybe we could have got a different result.

“It's a pity, it could have been the perfect epilogue for this incredible week," he added.

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