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Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez says he will have no problems sharing leadership at Katusha with new arrival Denis Menchov.
The Spanish attacker said Menchov’s presence on the Russian outfit for the 2012 season will take some pressure off his shoulders and give the team more depth in the season’s most important races.
“On a team like ours, with such a big budget, there’s sometimes a lack of leaders for some races. There were even races when we didn’t even have anyone to work for. With Menchov and (Oscar) Freire, we will have options in all types of scenarios,” Rodríguez said in an interview with the Spanish daily MARCA.
“I like the pressure,” he continued. “The new arrivals don’t affect me at all. My schedule remains more or less the same. I will continue with the classics, the Giro and the Vuelta as objectives, also the worlds, which will be very hard again in 2012.”
Rodríguez will make his debut at the Mallorca Challenge in early February and the race the Tour of Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al Paîs Vasco before the Ardennes classics. Then it’s off to the Giro d’Italia and perhaps the Dauphiné. He’ll later regroup for the Vuelta, worlds and the Giro di Lombardia.
Like last year, Rodríguez will skip the Tour to focus on the more mountainous tours at the Giro and Vuelta.
That makes even more sense, with nearly 100km of individual time trials and the arrival of Menchov, who was third overall in 2010 but sat out last year’s edition when his Geox-TMC team was not invited to race.
Rodríguez says he still has some unfinished business with the spring classics. Despite some close calls — including second places in all three of the hilly classics — he’s never one of the big, one-day Ardennes races.
“I still dream of winning Liège,” he said. “It’s the race I like the most. If I could, I would put all my second and third places into a bag and trade it for one Liège victory.”