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"I think he has to try and make the difference there and try to pick up some time bonuses. It’s definitely a bit of an uphill struggle for us at this Giro but if Purito is going well, then he can do it," Paolini said.

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

GIRO D'ITALIA

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JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUCA PAOLINI

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13.05.2014 @ 22:26 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

It is very hard to imagine worse start to the grand tour event than the one Garmin-Sharp suffered in the opening team time trial, but one of the biggest pre-race favorites, Joaquim Rodriguez, couldn’t consider his first three days of the 2014 Giro d’Italia edition as perfect either. Discouragingly poor effort against the clock placed Katusha leader 1:28 down on best positioned general classification contender, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), but Luca Paolini is convinced that they maintain all possibilities opened, however, ‘Purito’ needs to chase time bonuses from the very first mountain stages. Which means, from tomorrow.

 

Apart from the situation of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), who was hardly considered a race favorite despite his 2012 title, among general classification contenders Rodriguez lost most of a ground in the opening team time trial and suffered just another blow when one of his key domestiques, Giampaolo Caruso fractured his wrist in a crash on Saturday.

 

"We were unlucky because we had to ride in the rain but even if that could be a justification of sorts, we still went badly in the team time trial and we caused Joaquim to lose some important time," Paolini said. "But it went worse for some other guys – Daniel Martin had to abandon after what seemed a routine fall, whereas we still have possibilities. We know the terrain is there for Joaquim to make up the time. We've got a lot of stages coming up where he can win or at least go for the bonuses."

 

On a different note, however, dynamic Katusha leader is known for his ability to collect bonus seconds on steep mountaintop finishes and Paolini acknowledged that the 36-year old Catalan would have to make a good use of every single climb on the versatile Giro d’Italia route.

 

First two occasions will arrive in next two days, and even though major race contenders are expected to save their strengths until the Saturday’s stage finish at Montecopiolo, shorter climbs at Viggiano and Montecassino should provide Rodriguez with good opportunities to make up on a lost time.

 

"I think he has to take every chance that presents itself now, whether it's a big mountain finish or a smaller hilltop finish," Paolini told Cyclingnews.

 

"I think he has to try and make the difference there and try to pick up some time bonuses. It’s definitely a bit of an uphill struggle for us at this Giro but if Purito is going well, then he can do it."

 

Paolini made his belated Giro d’Italia debut last year, enjoying a fairly long stint in the maglia rosa and winning a stage, but reflecting on this year’s responsibilities within the Russian squad, the Italia veteran insisted to be pleased with a role of Rodriguez’ most reliable lieutenant.

 

"I'm the man who is constantly at Purito's side in the peloton, to keep him out of trouble. That’s my role this year and I'm very happy to carry it out," said Paolini, who explained that the wet and windy conditions in Ireland, demanding as they were, could have been a lot more exacting.

 

"For the most part it was a headwind on Saturday instead of a crosswind, so rather than take risks to push up to the front, we were able to spend quite a bit of the stage nearer the back of the bunch. The situation was under control."

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