SAINT-FÉLICIEN, France (VN) — Daniel Moreno reaped the rewards of his hard work in the Giro d’Italia with a win on Tuesday in the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Spaniard slaved all May for Katusha teammate Joaquím Rodríguez in the Italian tour, nearly seeing him win ahead of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).
“I take the opportunities when they arrive,” Moreno said in a press conference. “It’s not just that I’m waiting for the moments when Purito [Rodríguez - ed] is not here, but I do cherish these moments. I also feel like the team’s expecting it from me when Purito’s not here.”
Moreno took his biggest win in the 2007 Vuelta a España when he was riding for the second-division team, Relax-Gam. Since then, he’s been in the service of leaders: first Alejandro Valverde at Caisse d’Epargne and then Rodríguez, whom he followed from Caisse to Katusha after a year in Belgium’s Omega Pharma-Lotto team in 2010.
In the Giro, he was one of the last mountain domestiques by Rodríguez, going head-to-head with Hesjedal’s helpers, Peter Stetina and Christian Vande Velde. In fact, he said Tuesday, in the Giro he learned some lessons.
Moreno remembered the stage to Assisi, where Rodríguez jumped ahead on the ramp into the old city center for the win and bonus seconds to take the overall lead. It briefly flashed through his head today when he left Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) behind late in the stage.
“I knew it was going to be very difficult because other teams were looking for the win today, too,” he continued. “I stayed calm and kept with the high pace. I launched early. I remembered in that moment that Purito had a similar win in the Giro.”
Martin, Evans and Nibali are tough customers and Moreno had to hold his ground while the others closed in.
“He can win these kind of sprints, you know. We don’t care about the classification here. There are two stages we are trying to win, and this was one,” sports director, Dimitri Konyshev told VeloNews.
“When Moreno is without Purito, he can always win. Otherwise, he has to work for Purito. That’s why sometimes we try to keep them apart! To give Moreno his own a possibilities.”
Moreno trained to be ready for the Giro and this day. He passed the winter in Argentina, his wife’s home country, and traveled from his home in Madrid to Tenerife for high-altitude training camps. With Rodríguez a somewhat surprising second overall in Italy and today’s stage win, Moreno showed he was indeed ready. Next, he is ready for a break.
“What is my program after this? Nothing! Just recovery,” he said. “I’ll relax before building up to the Vuelta a España with Purito.”