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Spanish Stew: How the Vuelta a Espana GC contenders stack up

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Aug. 22, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM EST
Joaquim Rodríguez enters the 2013 Vuelta a España the top favorite. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez (Katusha)

Age: 34
Vuelta history: Going into his 10th Vuelta start, his career-best was third last year.
Strengths: Purito’s slight build makes him an ideal climber for Spain’s mix of mountainous terrain. Some of the climbs are longer grinders, where he can stay with the best and then pip them at the line for time bonuses. Other climbs are brutally steep, and he’s almost untouchable when the gradient punches above 15 percent.
Why he can win: With a new generation coming up, this could be Rodríguez’s last chance to win a grand tour. This route seems almost specifically designed for him, with a blend of short, punchy summits mixed in with longer, steeper climbs. The hilly time trial means that he shouldn’t lose too much time against the clock, and Katusha brings a loaded squad. This Vuelta is Purito’s to lose.
Where he can lose: Rodríguez may have dug too deep fighting through the final week of a brutal Tour to realize a dream of reaching the podium, with third. He admitted in an interview last week that he was feeling more fatigued than he expected. If he’s not at the top of his game, those same mountains that typically suit him so well could prove his executioner.

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FILED UNDER: Analysis / Vuelta a España TAGS:

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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