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

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »