Katusha vows to race aggressively in Liège-Bastogne-Liège
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Katusha vows to race aggressively in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

by Conal Andrews at 8:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Joaquim RodriguezHaving been a frustrated second in both Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne, Joaquim Rodriguez is vowing to go all out to try to take the final Ardennes Classic, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this Sunday.

His Katusha team has pledged to take an aggressive approach, and will hope that this will enable the Catalan rider to make the step up to the top of the podium.

“With Liège-Bastogne-Liège a week of important races will be closed: we took part in all of them with courage,” he said. “But I have to admit that I’d like to close this trio with a success, after the two second places behind Gilbert. The Belgian rider proved to be in an extraordinary shape, and we will try to do everything we can to defeat him, while keeping in mind that several riders can claim to win on Sunday.

“We have the chance to play very different games and strategy, and we have a very strong team. Di Luca and Kolobnev will be crucial for the team work. Anyways, the most important thing is do our best.”

Rodriguez had a delayed start to the season due to injury, showing well in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco but then losing the leader’s jersey in the time trial there. His Ardennes Classics campaign has shown that he is back in top condition and he hopes to take advantage of the face that with Alexander Kolobnev and Danilo Di Luca, his team has three leaders, thus making it more difficult for their rivals to control them.

“We will race as protagonists, as we’ve always raced these days,” said directeur sportif Serge Parsani. “I can’t be anything but satisfied with the last performances: two second places, in such important races, are excellent results, so I can’t blame my riders for anything. We will try again to win, trying to take advantage of a roster with more than one diamond on it.”

Alexander Kolobnev is another who has the ability to win. He’s gone close to big victories in the past, not least his two runner-up slots in the world championships, as well as second in last year’s Liège Classic. He agrees that the team’s multi-headed approach will be a strength. “Team Katusha has the chance to play different strategies and we have to work well to take advantage of this, leaving nothing to chance. I think that Di Luca, Rodriguez and me have the chance to do a good race. I don’t know how’s it going to end, but we’re going to make the other teams work really hard.”

For Di Luca, this Classics campaign has been quieter than his previous ones. He was 48th in the Amstel Gold Race and then 80th in Flèche Wallonne and, after his long doping suspension, appears to be far off the form which won him Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2007. However he insists that he can play a big part in Sunday’s contest.

“I spent lots of energies in Amstel Gold Race, but in Flèche Wallonne I’ve already felt better and I worked till the last kilometre for the team and for Rodriguez’s victory. I think, anyways, that the Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the race that suits me better of all the "Ardennes triplette" and, together with Kolobnev, we can be a good alternative strategy to Rodriguez.”


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