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"Tomorrow I will take part in the Fleche Wallonne with the number 1 on my back and that gives me strong motivation, but I’m also aware I’m not in my top shape and so it will be very hard to repeat last year's victory&qu...

Photo: Sirotti








16.04.2013 @ 17:32 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Having completed a 2-hour training ride today, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has finally chosen to line up in the two remaining Ardennes classics, the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. While he is proud to start tomorrow's classic as defending champion, he downplays his chances.


It was a huge blow to Joaquin Rodriguez when the tiny Spaniard was involved in a crash with 45km to go in Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. With his thigh clearly hurting, he managed to get back on his bike but it was soon clear to the Katusha captain that he would have to abandon the race.


Since then his participation in tomorrow's Fleche Wallonne has been highly uncertain as medical examinations on Sunday and Monday showed a deep hematoma on the left femoral. A final decision was expected today.


Having completed a 2-hour training ride, he has finally chosen to try to defend his title and also line up in his dream race, Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. However, he downplays his own chances due to the uncertainty of his physical condition.


"Tomorrow I will take part in the Fleche Wallonne with the number 1 on my back and that gives me strong motivation, but I’m also aware I’m not in my top shape and so it will be very hard to repeat last year's victory," he said. "I hope to recover my top shape for Liege-Bastogne-Liege. "


With the doubts concerning his own chances, he was also clear to point out his personal favourites to succeed him on the winners' list of the Wallonian classic.


"In my opinion, the favorite riders for tomorrow will be Alejandro Valverde, Michael Albasini, Simon Gerrans, Philippe Gilbert, Igor Anton and Alberto Contador," Peter Sagan is very strong, but the last km is really hard: he should attack befor."


Despite the uncertainty surrounding the captain, the Katusha team has a number of opportunities. The team is probably the strongest in the race and with an in-form Giampaolo Caruso and Daniel Moreno being another expert on steep climbs, it would be a mistake to write off the team due to Rodriguez' misfortune.


You can follow all the action from the Fleche Wallonne on The live coverage will start as soon as the stage of the Giro del Trentino has finished - probably between 14.30 and 15.00.



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