The Russian Katusha squad on Friday named the eight men set to support Joaquim Rodríguez’s bid for the maillot jaune at the Tour de France this year. Spaniards Daniel Moreno and Alberto Losada, and Russian Yuriy Trofimov form the core of “Purito’s” support system in the mountains for the 100th Tour.
“I think we will have the best and strongest roster we could choose,” the team’s top sports director, Valerio Piva, said in a team press release. “We will have Joaquim Rodríguez as a leader, and our main goal is to fight for general classification with him. For this aim, we have strong climbers such as Losada, Trofimov and, of course, Moreno, that will be our second in command.”
Katusha will also send a squad that is built to protect the diminutive Spanish climber during the Tour’s hectic early stages, which often see a number of inattentive GC riders eliminated due to crashes and time splits. Russians Pavel Brutt and Eduard Vorganov, Latvian time trial champion Gatis Smukulis, and Belarusian Aliaksandr Kuchynski will shepherd Rodríguez from the Grand Départ in Corsica on June 29 toward the Pyrénées.
“I expect their work to be crucial, especially in the team time trial and in the breakaways. Then, we will have Kristoff for sprinters’ stages, even if we won’t have a real train in order to help him: but he’s in a great shape, so I think he can do a good jobs and also support the team in some stages,” said Piva. “In general, we have to be focused from the very beginning: the three stages in Corsica will be tough, especially the third; that’s why we will be there a little earlier than expected in order to check it. Obviously, the third week will be crucial and the most demanding one, but it’s a three-week long competition, so we have to pay attention everyday. Anyways, we checked all the time trials, we went to see the courses of Pyrénées stages, we tried the Alps during and after Critérium du Dauphiné, so we will be very prepared and motivated to reach our goals.”
The 100th Tour de France starts June 29 in Corsica.
Katusha for the 2013 Tour de France:
Pavel Brutt (RUS)
Alexander Kristoff (NOR)
Aliaksandr Kuchynski (BLR)
Alberto Losada (ESP)
Daniel Moreno (ESP)
Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP)
Gatis Smukulis (LAT)
Yuriy Trofimov (RUS)
Eduard Vorganov (RUS)