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"My TT yesterday was the same watts as last year but 30-seconds slower because of the wind, but I feel I am further along in my climbing fitness than I was in 2013. Racing in Dubai and Oman will further help me. I’m very happy,&q...

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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NEWS
26.01.2014 @ 16:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second year in a row, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has had a very low-key start to the season in the Tour de San Luis where he has been far behind the best on the first two mountain stages. After testing himself in Friday's time trial, he gave it a go in yesterday's final summit of the finish and was happy with his feelings that gave him an 11th place.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez may be one of the biggest names in the Tour de San Luis but if people had any expectations for this performance, they had no reason to. Like last year, the Spaniard is not yet at a fitness level that allows him to compete with the best and he has chosen to ease into the season.

 

When the riders first hit the mountains on the second day, he finished far behind in 90th, losing 7.06 to stage winner Julian Arredondo (Trek).  Two days later he was 103rd in the queen stage, losing a massive 19.57 to stage winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who he is likely to go up against in the Giro later this year.

 

Yesterday Rodriguez faced his first time trial of the year and knowing that he has often struggled in the discipline, he used it as an important test. He did well to finish 47th, losing 2.11 to stage winner Adriano Malori (Movistar).

 

With a week of racing in his legs, he decided to give it a go in yesterday's final mountain stage and the result was completely different from his first showings on the climbs. Losing only 30 seconds to stage winner Julian Arredondo (Trek) on the steep slopes, he crossed the line in 11th.

 

Afterwards, he was very satisfied with his performance and even suggested that he is further ahead than he was at this time last year.

 

“I wanted to do a good final climb because this was the longest stage and I like this kind of climb," he said. "I had really good feelings today, especially since the weather was better. It wasn’t so tropical like in the previous days – the weather was more like Europe and this suits me.

 

"My TT yesterday was the same watts as last year but 30-seconds slower because of the wind, but I feel I am further along in my climbing fitness than I was in 2013," he added. "Racing in Dubai and Oman will further help me. I’m very happy.”

 

The stage also had a bitter outcome for Katusha who lost Luca Paolini in a crash. However, the Italian was not seriously injured and even though he will miss today's final flat stage, he can continue his preparation for the cobbled classics.

 

Rodriguez will next ride the Tour of Dubai before again testing himself in the mountains in the Tour of Oman where he won the queen stage 12 months ago.

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