Rodriguez determined to chase Grand Tour success in 2011, makes TT position modifications
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rodriguez determined to chase Grand Tour success in 2011, makes TT position modifications

by Shane Stokes at 10:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
After best-ever season, world number one believes he can improve even further

Joaquin RodriguezPsyched by his leadership of this year’s Vuelta a España plus his stage win in his debut Tour de France, Spanish climber Joaquin Rodriguez has been working to improve his time trial ability and believes that he can have a bigger future in three week races.

The world number one has said that he is aiming to repeat his 2010 success next season, or, even better, to exceed what he achieved this year. “Why should I not improve on these results? I finished fourth in the Tour of Spain, just 1:18 behind [third-placed] Peter Velits,” he told Marca. “Now my dream is this: to win a Grand Tour or, at least, be on the podium. La Vuelta and Giro are more within my means.”

Rodriguez said that his best memory from this season was his Tour de France stage victory in Mende, a win which came in his debut in the race, and ahead of Alberto Contador. He’s also clear on what was the worst moment: the Peñafiel time trial in the Vuelta a España, where he cracked and lost all hope of winning the race.

“The good thing is I have the bar so low that improvement is easy,” he stated, dismissing his rides that day. “I would be difficult to make another time trial as bad as that…I lost four minutes 18 seconds to Nibali in a 46 kilometre time trial, and in the final general classification we were separated by four minutes 22. I have to improve a lot.

Fortunately, he’s already taken steps to try to ensure that happens. Part of the problem for climbers is that the ability to get up mountains quickly is not in itself related to what is needed to quickly cover a flatter distance alone. An aerodynamic position is important, but so too the ability to stay in that tuck and – crucially – to put out high power levels while doing so.

If the flexibility and/or core strength is not there, sometimes going too aero can have a net negative effect on performance. Rodriguez has been working in the Horta velodrome with the Italian biomechanicist, Alessandro Mariano, and has determined that an error had existed in this area.

“To want a time trialist’s position while being 55 kilos is a mistake, as I don’t have to hope to win a time trial,” he said. “Now I have a less aerodynamic position but more natural and practical because it allows me to put out my full force.”

That’s something the Schleck brothers did with Specialized BG Fit guru Andy Pruitt; while such an approach essentially acknowledges that the riders in question won’t ever be top class time trialists, it can bring about some improvements through better efficiency of pedalling.

Rodriguez will hope to see the effects in 2011, although he isn’t yet sure what Grand Tours he will target. “I have many of possibilities ahead, but still do not know what will happen. The team [Katusha] wants me to dispute the Giro, because they are convinced that I can win; I, however, prefer to ride the Tour and the Vuelta because I really like the Amstel, Fleche and Liège Classics. If I give them my all, as is my intention, it is difficult to arrive in good condition at the Giro. I will prepare as best as possible and then see.”

Before the three week races, he will do his utmost to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He was second in the Flèche Wallonne this year and knows that the finish suits him very well, but he considers La Doyenne to be the best one day race in the world. Regarding it as even more important than the world championships, he will do what he can to win it in four months’ time.


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