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“[It is] a very hard blow. He has great quality and was always there in the finales, in many cases with me. But we will get others like Taaramae and Van den Broeck. They can also contribute a lot and do well.”

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DANIEL MORENO

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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25.10.2015 @ 08:27 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a terrible 2014 season, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) got back on track in 2015. Despite being 36 years of age, the Spaniard is still highly motivated as he goes into a new season where he will have his eyes on the Tour de France and the Olympics.

 

In 2014, Joaquim Rodriguez had big plans to finally take the elusive grand tour victory in the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a Espana. However, his ambitious plans were all derailed when he crashed out of the Italian race and even though he bounced back at the end of the year with a fourth place in his home race, there were many doubts regarding the 36-year-old Spaniard for the 2015 season.

 

However, overall victory in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, a stage win and a second place in the Vuelta a Espana and two stage wins in the Tour de France to compensate for a failed GC plan proved that the Katusha rider still has what it takes to compete with the best.

 

“It's been a perfect year,” he told Spanish newspaper AS at the Saitama Criterium in Japan. “It was a shame about the end of the season. I could not go to Lombardy and Abu Dhabi, two races in which I could have done very well if you look at how I came out of the Vuelta (Rodriguez sustained a knee injury two days before the start of Il Lombardia]. But hey, this is the Saitama Criterium and if I have to take stock, I'm happy.

 

“There have been several good moments, from the Basque Country which was the beginning of the streak. Later there was the Tour where I won two stages and wore the mountains jersey despite not going for GC. But above all there is the end of the season with the Vuelta. To be back on the podium at a grand tour is always very important.

 

“Last year was a very eventful season and I needed to make things rights. I've been growing a lot since 2010 and last year I worked to follow that pattern, but nothing worked for me. It seems that everything is back on track and I have regained tranquility. It was the year that has contributed the most.”

 

Rodriguez has now set his sights on 2016 and has already fixed his key objectives.

 

“2016 is an attractive year that motivates me a lot,” he said. “Because there is a very tough course for the Olympics and the Tour de France as we have seen recently, will also be demanding. I think this 2016 profile suits climbers so I have sufficient incentives to be highly motivated. Those two are my objectives. The Giro is practically ruled out and it remains to be seen with the Vuelta because it will be difficult after the Tour as I want to prepare for the Olympics... we'll see.”

 

However, one thing will be different. In 2016, Rodriguez will be without his trusted lieutenant Daniel Moreno who has played a key role in most of his biggest wins. The Spanish pair have reportedly fallen out with each other and Moreno has now signed a contract with Movistar.

 

“[It is] a very hard blow,” he said. “He has great quality and was always there in the finales, in many cases with me. But we will get others like Taaramae and Van den Broeck. They can also contribute a lot and do well.”

 

 At 36 years of age, the question of retirement is always imminent. However, Rodriguez has no firm plans yet.

 

“I do not know,” he said when asked about when he will leave the sport. “I'll be here until they kick me out.”

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