On Saturday 18th, Katusha Team will take part to the last of the Grand Tours: “Vuelta a Espana”, the World Tour stage race Spanish competition that will end, as tradition, in Madrid in September, Sunday 9th. The 67th edition of Vuelta is expected to be very hard: 3300 kilometers with 13 stages that will take place in middle or high mountain, and 6 uphill finishes. Katusha Team will count on Joaquim Rodriguez as a leader: ‘Purito’ did a great ‘Vuelta’ last year, wearing the red jersey in the first week and winning two stages. Dani Moreno, winner of ‘Vuelta a Burgos’ during this season, won a stage during the 66th edition: his first one in the competition of the country where he was born. The Russian team, despite the presence of great rivals, will take place to the Iberian race in order to be between the protagonists of this edition too with the following roster:
Pavel Brutt, Xavier Florencio, Mikhail Ignatyev, Alberto Losada, Denis Menchov, Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez, Gatis Smukulis, Angel Vicioso. Sport Directors: Valerio Piva, Dmitriy Konyshev, Claudio Cozzi.
So the leader, Joaquim Rodriguez, will be helped between the others by two great riders: Denis Menchov, leader in ‘Tour de France’ and winner of 2005 and 2007 editions; and Dani Moreno, which this year triumphed in ‘GP Miguel Indurain’, two stages of ‘Criterium du Dauphinè’ and ‘Vuelta a Burgos’ general classification.
“As usual it will be a very hard ‘Vuelta’ – said Valerio Piva, head of Sport Directors – especially the uphill finishes, concentrated in the last week, will be crucial. I think we have a very balanced team: the leader will be Joaquim Rodriguez, just like in ‘Giro d’Italia’, with great riders such as Denis Menchov and Dani Moreno to help him, especially during the climbings. At least, that will be our starting organization: then, looking at our riders’ shape and situation, we will see if we should change this setting or not. But also the other riders can give us a huge support: Smukulis and Ignatyev will help us not to lose too much time during the team time trial and can do a great job leading the group during some stages, just like Brutt, Florencio and Vicioso during flat or middle mountain stages. Losada, instead, will help ‘Purito’ in high mountain stages, just like Denis and Dani. Our goal is obviously the overall standings: we want to fight for general classification, even if we saw some stages we want to win. And the standard of the competition will be high, with some great riders at the start: for example, Chris Froome proved to be an incredible climber and it will be hard to defeat, and I saw Alberto Contador in a great shape during ‘Eneco Tour’ even if he’s back to races since a little time. Anyways we think we can take some good results: we will try to manage the energies of ‘Purito’ because the last week will be crucial, and it’s important to reach that part of the competition in a good shape. In fact, we preferred him to reach step by step his top shape. I think, instead, the stages against the clock won’t be too important: obviously we want to start well in the first team time trial and not to lose time, but with stages such as Los Ancares, Lagos de Covadonga, Cuitu Negro and Bola del Mundo, in the last but one day, in the last week there will be many chances to make the difference”.