Purito’s ticking time trial bomb
Time trials have been Rodríguez’s Achilles heel in his quest for a grand tour, with his infamous implosion during the 2010 Vuelta a España, when he lost six minutes and the red leader’s jersey to eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali on a flat, windy 40km power course in the final week.
Piva, however, is all but sure if Rodríguez is in pink atop the Stelvio that the Giro is won.
“Purito has improved a lot in the time trial,” Piva said. “We have been working on his bike, his position, getting him more comfortable in time trials. He likes to be very calm and prepared before the time trials.”
Rodríguez has ridden two major time trials so far this season. At Tirreno-Adriatico, he stopped the clock 52 seconds slower than TT specialist Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan), but only five seconds slower than Giro archrival Roman Kreuziger (Astana). In that short, power course of 9.3km, Rodríguez had just come off winning an uphill stage to Offida and was not riding for GC.
At the Vuelta al País Vasco in April, Rodríguez lost 22 seconds to stage winner and overall champ Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on a hilly, 18.9km course, but only lost 16 seconds to reigning world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
It is results like that that give Piva confidence if Rodríguez is still in pink riding into Milan when the Giro ends on May 27.
“There have been times in the past when he has lost a lot, but I do believe he will not lose so much time against riders like Basso and Scarponi in Milan. There will not be a big TT specialist in the GC hunt, no one like Menchov or Contador, who can take minutes,” Piva said. “If he has pink into Milan, it would have to take a disaster to lose the Giro then.”
Stranger things have happened during Rodríguez’s long journey into the pink jersey. He’s hoping those one-off bad days, when all is lost, are firmly in the rear-view mirror. If they are, it could be very tricky to wrestle away the maglia rosa.