Rojas helping Valverde but sprints well on Tour de France stage three
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Monday, July 01, 2013

Rojas helping Valverde but sprints well on Tour de France stage three

by Kyle Moore at 2:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Former Spanish champion relieved to place well after bad day on Sunday

Jose Joaquin RojasJose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) earned his best result of the season in stage three of the Tour de France in Calvi, sprinting to a third place finish behind winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

The result was a welcome return to form for Rojas, a former runner-up in the Tour’s points classification. The Spaniard admitted to having a difficult time with the undulating stage two, and was happy to get a solid result just one day later.

And though he stated that his primary objective is to look after Movistar leader Alejandro Valverde, he will take confidence into the sprinter’s stages coming up this week.

“Third place leaves me with a good feeling. [Gerrans and Sagan] were right in front of me, and I was left a little uncertain whether or not I could have contested the stage with them,” Rojas stated.

Rojas took the final right-hand bend at seventh wheel, just behind Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing). He accelerated up to the slipstream of Sagan, and then the bunch opened up the sprint. Rojas easily dispatched Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), but the gap was too big to close between he and the Gerrans – Sagan drag race.

Having not won since a stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April of 2012, Rojas nabbed one of his best results of the season, in line with a third place he earned on the difficult stage six finish in Paris-Nice.

“I am especially pleased to see that yesterday’s stage was an anomaly,” Rojas added. “I had a bad day, suffering in the heat with cramps. Now I’m back to myself. It was a stage that I knew I could do well on, but my priority is to always be with Alejandro. Only after doing that job can I do things for myself.

“This opportunity provides an impetus for me because I’ve had a lot of setbacks with my morale in recent weeks, as well as an infection in my mouth. To see myself again contesting a sprint in the Tour will help raise my morale for the remainder of the race.”

A 25-kilometre team time trial awaits riders in Nice on Tuesday. In terms of favourites for the stage, some odds-makers are putting Movistar as high as fourth. Though the stage is relatively short, the importance of the team time trial was not lost on Rojas. Movistar can harbor general classification hopes for multiple riders, including Valverde, Nairo Quintana, and Rui Costa.

“Tomorrow is an important day. It will be a big test for the team and hopefully everything goes smoothly,” said the former Spanish road race champion. “If nothing else, I think we will be near the top, or even aspiring for victory. We have shown this in recent team time trials and tomorrow we hope to be at that level.

“In any case, it will be a moral victory. The early days have gone smoothly, with Alejandro near the front. And being that it is such a short team time trial, the differences between the favourites will not be great.”

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