Ekimov insists that 34 year old Rodriguez can still win a Grand Tour
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Ekimov insists that 34 year old Rodriguez can still win a Grand Tour

by VeloNation Press at 2:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
“Joaquim is at the peak of his form and consistent second, third and fourth places in Grand Tours only make him angrier”

Joaquim RodriguezHe’s been frustratingly close in the past, leading the Vuelta a España for much of last year’s race before slipping to third in the final week, and also twice finished fourth overall in that event, was second and fourth in the Giro d’Italia and was third in the Tour de France last July.

It’s a case of close, but no cigar for Purito. However Joaquim Rodriguez’s manager at the Katusha team, Viacheslav Ekimov, has insisted that the rider can go on to win a three week race.

He dismisses the notion that Rodriguez is missing the final element necessary to take a Grand Tour, saying that this year’s Vuelta a España shows that the 34 year old Spaniard shouldn’t worry about his age.

“The recent case of Chris Horner shows that there shouldn’t be any myths about an athlete’s age. In professional cycling each rider is an individual and we don’t have certain age limits,” he told Championat. “Joaquim is at the peak of his form and consistent second, third and fourth places in Grand Tours only make him angrier and motivate him to prove the opposite.”

Rodriguez would likely have already won such an event had he not lost so much time against the clock. He’s a strong climber and a powerful finisher, but his bugbear thus far has been in the race of truth.

For Ekimov, who won the time trial in the 2000 Olympic Games and was awarded the gold medal for the 2004 event after Tyler Hamilton admitted doping, Rodriguez shouldn't abandon hope of an improvement in this area.

“He is a rider quite capable of winning a Grand Tour. He has his moments that we need to work on, for instance individual time trials. But the team is ready to help him and Purito himself digs deep in that direction; he doesn’t just sit around but talks to the specialists and looks for an optimal seat position for himself,” he said.

“He understands that to win a Grand Tour he has to work on his weak point and minimize his loses in the ITT.”

Having worked with Chris Horner at Team RadioShack, where he was a directeur sportif and the American was a rider, Ekimov has said that he believed the latter was capable of a big win, despite his age.

“I can hardly be surprised by anything in the sport, least of all Chris’ success. I always believed that older riders can show great results,” he said. “I myself won a gold medal at the Olympic games at 38. The key moment here is the desire of the rider himself to prove the opposite and refute all the age-related dogmas. In reality everything depends on the rider himself: his mood, desire and attitude to the process.”

Because of that, he believes that Rodriguez can continue to chase improvement despite nearing his mid thirties.

Ekimov was also asked about Denis Menchov’s sudden retirement this year, and if he considered if there is a potential for the rider to return in some role within Russian sport and to help younger riders develop and succeed.

“For the moment, Denis is taking a break,” he answered. “Not everyone can take on another role right after their career ends. He has certain potential of an experienced rider, I’m sure of that. It’s only a question of time.”


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