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"In the end I am happy with my fourth place. Of course I hoped for more but I did everything I could to achieve more and I think I finished in the correct place. In cycling it’s all about force and three other guys appeared to be...

Photo: Unipublic/Graham Watson








15.09.2014 @ 01:19 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Joaquim Rodriguez went into the Vuelta a Espana hoping to conquer his first grand tour victory but he came up short and had to settle for third. The Spaniard openly admits that three riders had been stronger than him but celebrated the fact that Katusha won the teams classification.


After three weeks of exciting racing from an incredible field of riders, Team Katusha proudly stood on the final podium in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday to accept the honors of team with the best time for the 2014 Vuelta a España. With the team putting in a solid three weeks of riding to help team leader Joaquim Rodriguez earn a fourth place, Team Katusha was rewarded for their fine accomplishments in the final grand tour of the season. 


"This is very nice after three weeks on the road to win the Teams GC on a big tour. It’s also well deserved for the team. We fought to win a stage and a big effort came from every team riders so to be on the podium is good. We also finish with all 9 riders. We planned to come here with a very strong team and everyone prepared 100% in their condition to be here. The nine riders all acted as professionals as they came to this Vuelta. We explained from the beginning that the strategy of the team would be to ride for our leader Joaquim Rodriquez. It was our goal and everyone had the same mentality. When you look at our team you don’t see the separation of nationalities, you see one team. I don’t see any stages where we could have done more. We took our obligations to control the breaks and Katusha was at the front over and over. I am very proud of our team and they deserved to stand on the podium today. The spirit of the riders and staff was so perfect these three weeks. We saw dedication from every single person on Team Katusha," said team director José Azevedo.


Joaquim Rodriguez displayed fine leadership and dedication over the three week period, attacking over and over and using his team in an effort to earn a spot on the podium, finally settling for fourth place behind overall winner Alberto Contador of Saxo-Tinkoff. Chris Froome (Sky) was second at 1.10, Alejandro Valverde third at 1.50, Rodriguez was at 3.25 and fifth place went to Fabio Aru at 4.48 for the top five on general classification. It was a third Vuelta win for Contador and sixth grand tour win.


"In the end I am happy with my fourth place. Of course I hoped for more but I did everything I could to achieve more and I think I finished in the correct place. In cycling it’s all about force and three other guys appeared to be stronger this time. At times I missed that little something extra. Perhaps I lost unnecessary time in stage 16 when I felt I had the power to go faster, but the tactics of the race decided otherwise. But it makes no sense to look back. Done is done and that’s cycling. It’s more than pedaling – it’s a combination of race circumstances, tactics, competitors and weather. But the fact to stand on the overall podium with my teammates in Santiago de Compostela makes me happy. As a team we performed so well. It is nice to give this present to the fans and our sponsors," said team leader Joaquim Rodriguez. 


The final stage 21 was a short 9,7 km individual time trial in Santiago de Compostela, won by Adriano Malori (Movistar) with a best time of 11.12. Katusha’s Sergei Chernetckii put up a commanding performance, earning sixth on the stage, a fact he didn’t learn until after he’d returned to the team hotel.


"I was the first starter of the team. José told me to go full gas as he wanted some split times to help ‘Purito’ afterwards, but also as I am not bad in TT and José had checked the weather predictions and expected that only the first 50 riders would ride rain-free. On the radio José shouted constantly "Go, Go" and I gave my maximum. It was my job to do that. In the morning I did a recon of the circuit together with ‘Purito’ and that helped me a lot too. This is a nice end of the Vuelta for me to earn a top ten in a Grand Tour stage. For me the season continues longer. I am not tired yet. I go to Prato, the World Championships, Milano-Torino and Lombardia. If they ask me to go to Beijing I will go with pleasure too. I feel good," said Sergei Chernetckii.


Rodriguez concluded:


"It was a pleasure to be cheered so much by the fans on the roadside. They yelled ‘Purito!’ and ‘Katusha!’ and that pushed me forward. I believe I am popular with the fans because I am a fighter and I like that I’m a fighter. I never give up. In the end 2014 did not bring what I’d hoped for. It started so well with the WorldTour victory in Catalunya, but then came crashes in both the Amstel Gold Race and the Giro d’Italia. It disrupted my buildup during the season, but you cannot say that the season was a disaster. Perhaps without these things happening I would have been at the same level as I was in 2012 and 2013. But my season is not yet over. The World Championships and Lombardia are both races which I am looking forward to."



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