Rujano laments Giro non-start, hopes for ride in Tour or Vuelta
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Rujano laments Giro non-start, hopes for ride in Tour or Vuelta

by Conal Andrews at 3:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia
 

José Rujano’s hope of getting a guest slot with the Footon-Servetto team and riding the Giro d’Italia has come to nothing, with the rider not being named to the team’s roster for the race this week.

As previously reported on VeloNation, the 28 year old Venezuelan climber had been in talks with the team to try to transfer from his ISD-Neri squad in time for the race. The latter had been given a wildcard slot last year, but this time round the Giro organisers passed them over.

Five years ago Rujano was the relevation of the race, winning a stage, taking third overall and netting the prize as best climber.

At 23 years of age he appeared set for a glistening career yet, despite contracts with teams such as Quick Step-Innergetic, Unibet.com and Caisse d’Epargne, he has been unable to replicate that kind of form.

“It is a bit sad because the chance to race the Giro has not been given,” he told ESPN. “I’m pretty disappointed because the date has come [to go to the race] and nothing has happened.”

Rujano was unable to get a European contract last year and rode instead for a small Venezuelan team, Gobernación del Zulia. He used that as a spur to land some decent results in South American competition, winning the Vuelta a Venezula, the Vuelta a Columbia and becoming the national TT champion. He also took three stages in the Vuelta al Táchira.

That helped him secure a contract with ISD-Neri for this season and he started off well, winning the time trial stage plus the overall in the Vuelta al Táchira, then going on to win the Tour de Langkawi with a victorious attack on the Genting Highlands climb.

That showed he was back to his best, and went a little way towards justifying the comments he made over the winter, when he said he’d few equals in the mountains. “Right now I think I am the third climber in the world after Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez,” he bragged to the Venezuelan newspaper Entorno Inteligente in early January. “Armstrong and Andy Schleck? They are strong on the uphills, but they are not natural climbers.”

He laid out his season goal, saying that it was all about the Giro. “I cannot go to the Tour of Italy just to take part,” he said. “I'm going to win it. I’m mature enough to do it and I thank the ISD team that has given me the opportunity to repeat the preparation that I had followed in 2005, when I came third in the Giro.”

However the squad’s non-selection shot that aim down in flames. Riding with another team was the only way he could get into the race but, for whatever reason, the Footon-Servetto tranfer didn’t work out.

Now Rujano has set his sights on the two remaining Grand Tours of the season, making it clear that he is a gun for hire if a team wants a climber.

“Honestly, I’d like to talk to any ProTour team that would give me the opportunity to do the Tour,” he said. “I plan to take a break and then do the Tour or the Vuelta a España, because they are the top races and they suit my skills best. Otherwise, I’ll lose all the work I’ve been doing for this year.”

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