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Tour de France

‘Purito’ not discounting his chances of winning yellow in France

Rodriguez has only raced in one Tour de France (2010), in which he won a stage and finished seventh in the GC

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Joaquim Rodríguez says he is not taking anything off the table when it comes to talking possibilities in this year’s Tour de France.

Speaking to the Spanish sports daily AS, Katusha’s “Purito” said he’s not discounting his own chances to win, but tipped Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) as the pre-race favorites.

“My intention is to do the best possible result in GC and win a stage. I want to leave having the peace of mind knowing it was the result I deserved, be it eighth or first,” he told AS. “Last year, I was second in the Giro, and third in the Vuelta, and I could have won both. I am more mature. I know it’s complicated, but if I am going to discount my chances to win, it will be on the road, not at the start.”

For a rider as prolific as Rodríguez, it’s somewhat surprising he’s only raced one Tour. That was in 2010, when he won a stage and finished seventh overall.

Since 2008, Rodríguez has finished in the top 7 of the past seven of eight grand tours he’s started, a run that included two Vuelta podiums and last year’s 16-second loss to Ryder Hesjedal in the Giro.

Bolstered by his results last year and this year’s hilly course, Rodríguez skipped the Giro to put everything into the Tour.

Rodríguez is especially hopeful by two shorter, technically challenging time trials that will bolster his chances. The Critérium du Dauphiné proved a disaster for Rodríguez, who lost three minutes to Froome on a flat, power course.

So much so, that he’s ditched a new, wind-tunnel tested time trial position to return to his older, at least more familiar position ahead of the Tour.

“I was terrible. There is no excuse. It was back to the terrible Purito in the time trials,” said Rodríguez, referring to the Dauphiné. “My only consolation is that it won’t be so flat in the Tour. … I couldn’t adapt to the new position. My body was too far forward. For the Tour, I will return to my old position with a few tweaks.”

Beyond the TTs, which have always been a hurdle for him, Rodríguez likes what he sees in this year’s Tour.

“Hard, very hard. Maybe the Pyrénées are not so much this year, but the last week in the Alps is spectacular. The opening days are dangerous. Something will happen before we get to the Alps, but it’s there the winner will be decided,” he said. “For me to win? Everything goes perfect for me, and that the others have some troubles.”