Purito Rodriguez says ‘adios’ to Spain after Clasica San Sebastian

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has announced that Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastian was his last ever race in Spain, insinuating that he will not ride the Vuelta a España or any other race on home soil before formally retiring at the end of the 2016 season.

Subsequently, Rodriguez was swift to confirm his farewell before joining up with the Spanish team to travel to Rio for the Olympic road race. He first revealed he will retire at the end of the season during the Tour de France when the peloton enjoyed the first rest day near his home in Andorra. Yesterday in San Sebastian, Rodriguez seemed closer than ever before to a full-fledged retirement.

“I enjoyed my last race in Spain,” Rodriguez said. “This was a nice goodbye. The climb was super with the fans cheering for me. I really enjoyed it. I’m sorry I missed the top 3, but in the end there were three riders faster than me.”

In typical fashion, Rodriguez took the race from the front, going on the attack at the key moment on the climb of the Murgil Bidea, as the gradient soared to 20%.

“That last climb was really my terrain. I saw I had a gap and I tried, I had to,” he explained, indicating that Gallopin and eternal Spanish rival Valverde refused to help in the pursuit of Mollema on the descent. “Earlier I saw Adam Yates attacking and I knew he was trying to repeat his move of last year. That’s why I followed him and later dropped him. Unfortunately, at the top Mollema, Valverde and Gallopin joined me and when Mollema went away, Valverde and Gallopin really did nothing. Were they so afraid of me? In theory they are faster than me in the sprint. In the end they also missed the victory but it is like this. I was dead at that moment after my attack.”

Rodriguez finished seventh in his last ever Tour de France, with his rivals bestowing upon him the tribute of riding onto the Champs Elysees at the head of peloton, as a final goodbye to Grand Tour racing.

“I have a lot of memories from the Tour de France like the podium in Paris,” he said. “I have podiums at the Giro and at the Vuelta, Lombardia. That year [2013] was a really special year. On the podium, I was with riders who had achieved more but I don’t regret any moment in this race or in cycling in general.”

On Sunday morning Rodriguez said goodbye to his family and joined the rest of the Spanish road race team on the flight to Rio. With his goodbye to Spain confirmed, his race programme for the final part of the season and his final goodbye to the sport after 17 years as professional has still to be decided.