Joaquim Rodríguez: “Not a lot of riders managed to enter the top-three of all the big stage races.”
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Joaquim Rodríguez: “Not a lot of riders managed to enter the top-three of all the big stage races.”

by Ben Atkins at 5:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Purito climbs onto the Paris podium on the Tour’s final mountain

joaquim rodriguezJoaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) was arguably the rider that achieved most at the end of the 20th stage of the 2013 Tour de France, between Annecy and Annecy-Semnoz today, as he lifted himself up to his first ever final podium in the race. The Catalan rider began the day in fifth place overall, but just 26 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in third, and 47 seconds behind Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) in second. Stage victory for Quintana meant that the Colombian rider was not to be overtaken, but Rodriguez' second place - and the fact that Contador and teammate Roman Kreuziger both lost more than two minutes each - meant that "Purito" climbed over both.

"Today it was a real battle,” said Rodríguez. “I knew that only few seconds kept me far from the podium so my team and I gave our best and kept the highest pace we could, especially in the last climb.”

Despite his two victories in the season-long International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour, Rodríguez has still to win a Grand Tour, but lifting himself to third place overall on the even of the race’s arrival in Paris means that he is set to finish on the podium of all three races.

Two third places in his home race, the Vuelta a España, along with his second place in the 2012 Giro d’Italia, make Rodríguez one of few riders to have achieved such a feat.

“The podium is a great achievement, I'm very happy,” he said. “Not a lot of riders managed to enter the top-three of all the big stage races. I look forward to celebrating tomorrow, with my family and my friends.

“Today I felt in great shape,” he continued. “Maybe if only Froome helped me in the last climb and led us from time to time, I would have saved some energies and I could have fought for the stage victory. But never mind, the podium was the most important thing, so I'm happy like this.”

Despite making his very first tour podium, Rodríguez is still looking back a little at what might have been.

“I don't like to take justifications, but I think without the crash in the first week my gap in the overall standings would have been less and I could have taken the second position,” he said. “But the Tour de France is like this, it's a really demanding competition, and just a little is enough to be out of the fight for the win, as happened to [Movistar’s Alejandro] Valverde.

“After the Tour de France I'll rest a little bit, then I'll get ready for the Vuelta a España,” he concluded. “The course is suitable to my characteristics, and I would like to improve last year's third place.”

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