Tour de France: Movistar all behind José Joaquín Rojas' fight for the green jersey
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Tour de France: Movistar all behind José Joaquín Rojas' fight for the green jersey

by Ben Atkins at 3:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spanish team looking to force Mark Cavendish to finish outside the time limit in the Alps

jose joaquin rojasThe 2011 Tour de France has been a mixed one for Movistar. Team leader David Arroyo has been unable to compete with the top men in the mountains, and currently sits in 50th place, 43’03” down, while Beñat Inxausti and Vasil Kiriyenka have been forced to withdraw; the latter, the stage winner on Sestrieres in the Giro d’Italia, finishing outside the time limit on stage six to Lisieux.

There has been several positives for the Spanish team though, with Rui Costa winning the eight stage to Super-Besse, and sprinter José Joaquin Rojas holding, and now competing for, the green jersey.

The green jersey for Rojas is now the team’s number one priority as the race enters its final week. The 26-year-old currently sits in second place in the standings, 37 points behind incumbent Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) and 34 points ahead of Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

"The goal for these six days of competition, is to help to José Joaquín Rojas as much as possible in his struggle to win the Green Jersey,” confirmed Rojas’ teammate Francisco Ventoso,” in which he’s fighting against opponents such as Mark Cavendish and Phillip Gilbert"

While the team ignores the threat of Gilbert at its peril, it has been examining each of the remaining stages to see where Rojas can take points from Cavendish or even, if possible, put so much pressure on the Manxman in the mountains that he finishes outside the time limit.

The next stage between Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and Gap is, in the words of Rojas: “a very important stage for us. The intermediate sprint is rather close to the finish, and the normal thing is that a break formed at the beginning makes it.

mark cavendish“We hope it's not so big that many points are ruled out for us, because the approach is quite uphill and that's the best thing to take points on Cavendish. However, the most important thing is that the break isn't so far from the bunch at the climb [the 2nd category Col de Manse, which tops out at 11km from the finish – ed] because it's a big chance to win the stage.”

The next stage, over the Alps fro Gap to Pinerolo in Italy, is similar, Rojas thinks, but the first of the big mountain stages on Thursday, between Pinerolo and the Col du Galibier, is where the team will look to put real pressure on Cavendish.

“Our chance for this stage is taking him out of time,” he said. “The Agnello is a long, hard climb, 100k from the finish. If you drop there, you're dead.”

Should the HTC-Highroad sprinter get through the day to the Galibier though, Movistar will try to eliminate him a second time on the stage to Alpe d’Huez the next day.

“This is the most important day, the last chance so as to get Cavendish out of time,” said Rojas. “As I said, if we can't beat him into a sprint, other chances must be played. The jersey awards the best rider in all terrains, and I will try to take my advantage into those roads. The stage is really short so the out-of-time will be shorter than ever. Besides, the GC riders will be surely trying to get into the fight right at the Télégraphe.”

Assuming that Cavendish manages to get through the Alps, Rojas will continues the fight all the way to Paris. The time trial day will be regarded as a “recovery day”, since none of the sprinters would be able to compete with the time triallists, but the final stage to the Champs-Elysées in Paris will see a mano a mano battle between the two of them again.

While Rojas concedes that Cavendish would be the favourite to come out om top in Paris, he hopes that he will have a chance.

“We'll ride day-by-day, step by step, just like we did until today,” he said.

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