Joaquim Rodriguez reveals he could rival Bradley Wiggins at Giro d'Italia in May
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 11/03/13 1:01pm
Joaquim Rodriguez finished second at the 2012 Giro
Bradley Wiggins could have another major rival for victory at May's Giro d'Italia after Joaquim Rodriguez revealed he is keen to contest the season's first Grand Tour.
The 33-year-old had previously hinted that a mountainous 100th edition of the Tour de France, which appears ideally suited to his climbing expertise, would be his sole priority for the 2013 season.
But after climbing to a solo victory on stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday, the Spaniard admitted: "Yes, I could be in the Giro d'Italia."
The news will be of interest to Wiggins, who is heading to Italy in a bid to win a second Grand Tour and had been set for a three-way battle with home favourite Vincenzo Nibali and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal.
Rodriguez's inclusion would add another genuine contender to that equation, with the Katusha rider having established himself as one of the world's best Grand Tour riders in 2012 by finishing second in the Giro and then following that up with a third in the Vuelta a Espana.
His interest in the Giro may have been triggered by Katusha belatedly being awarded a UCI WorldTour licence. The Russian team were originally denied a 2013 licence and also missed out on a wildcard for the Giro, but when the Court of Arbitration for Sport reversed the UCI's decision, their eligibility for the Giro was restored.
The 2013 race, which starts in Naples on May 4 and ends in Brescia on May 26, appears tailor-made to Wiggins, with Italy's steepest climbs having been forsaken for more than 90km of time trialling.
The parcours should also suit Hesjedal, who clinched overall victory last year in the final-day time trial and whose participation in the 2013 edition was all but confirmed by his Garmin-Sharp team-mate Andrew Talansky on Sunday. Fresh from finishing second at Paris-Nice, the American said: "Ryder will go 100 per cent for the Giro this year."
Evans in 'training mode'
Meanwhile, 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans confessed he has moved into "training mode" at Tirreno-Adriatico after falling to almost nine minutes behind general classification leader Chris Froome following a nightmare day on Sunday's fifth stage.
The Australian finished 7min 44secs down on stage winner Rodriguez and is now switching priority from finishing high on the GC to improving his condition for races later in the season.
"To be competitive on GC is beyond my capabilities right now," the 36-year-old told the Herald Sun. "Racing is always the best training, but not necessarily racing at the front every day.
"Today [Sunday] I had to make a decision on that, which of course is not where I'm used to being and not the ideal place to be in, but I have to stay calm and look at the situation as it is and work towards the upcoming races.
"I can't say much for the action in the front as my objectives switched to training mode midway through the race."