Spanish cyclist Rodriguez eyes Tour de France crown

Madrid, June 18 (IANS) Spanish cyclist Joaquin 'Purito' Rodriguez believes that he is one of the main contenders to win the Tour de France beginning at the end of June.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has managed podium finishes in the Giro de Italia and Vuelta de Espana races, to highlight his credentials and the fact that he has evolved from a rider who would always be a threat in one day races as a result of his ability to produce a punchy uphill sprint, into a rider capable of competing over three long weeks in the saddle, Xinhua reports.

Now he feels he is prepared to lead the Katusha team in this year's Tour.

"My preparation has gone very well and I am happy with my results," he said in interview with sports paper 'Diario AS'.

"I have got more points from my races than at the same sage last year and the fact I didn't ride this year's Giro, when I was leader last year, means people have not talked so much about me, but my results have been good."

Rodriguez earned his nickname 'Purito', which literally means, 'Little Cigar' as a result of his being so thin. That has helped him to become an aggressive punchy climber, but Rodriguez doesn't believe it is in the mountains where this year's Tour will be won and lost.

"It is in the time trials," he insists. "This year they are not long and flat and you won't have to ride at 55km an hour to win. This year they are shorter but tougher, especially the second one," he said.

A notoriously poor rider against the clock, that is certain to help Rodriguez's challenge this year.

"My aim is to finish as high up the qualification as possible and to try and win a stage. I want to be able to finish the race knowing I am in the position I deserve to be in, be that first or eighth," he said, without refusing to rule out winning and wearing the famous yellow jersey.

"Last year I was second in the Giro and third in the Vuelta and I could have won both of them, so I am not ruling out winning. I am a more mature rider now. I know it will be complicated, but if I am going to rule myself out of winning, it will be at the end, rather than the beginning," said Rodriguez.

When asked about possible rivals, he had no doubt in naming Chris Froome, who will lead the British challenge with the Sky team and recently won the Dauphine Libere race, seen as a prelude to the Tour, along with fellow Spaniards, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and 2011 winner Cadel Evans, with Contador as the main man to challenge Froome.

Rodriguez has a warning for all riders preparing for the Tour. You can't win the race in the opening week, but you can most definitely lose it.

"Everyone is nervous and there are a lot of falls. They are dangerous and something will happen before we get to the Alpes, where the winner will be decided," he said.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Dwayne Bravo is set to be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a shoulder problem. Bravo sustained the injury when attempting a catch on the boundary… More »