2011 Vuelta a España preview: Antón a top favorite among those who want to see red in Madrid

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Aug. 18, 2011

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)

Rodriguez on his way to a stage win at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Photo: Graham Watson |

“Purito” is hot off victory at the Vuelta a Burgos in northern Spain and roars into the Vuelta with all cylinders running on high. Embarrassed by his meltdown in last year’s Peñafiel TT, when he lost more than six minutes to Nibali and all chances of victory, the Katusha captain vows to limit his losses in Salamanca and open up differences in the mountains. It sounds like a winning strategy.

“I have improved in the time trials, but I will never be a specialist. What I cannot do is have another disaster like last year,” Rodriguez said. “I am hiding nothing and I admit that I am going into the race to win. I’ve worked my tail off to be in top shape for the Vuelta. There are many rivals, but I believe the Vuelta will be won in the mountains.”

Rodriguez will also enjoy strong support from the Katusha squad, which gave him the liberty to prepare exclusively for the Vuelta at the expense of not racing the Tour.

  • Pros: Punchy attacking style, strong team
  • Cons: Time trialing

With five top-10s in the past six grand tours he’s started, “Purito” vows he’s ready to light up the GC. This Vuelta is tailor-made for his skill-set. Now he just needs to get through Salamanca without giving up six minutes.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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