He may have been racing in the Sultanate of Oman but today on stage 4, Joaquin Rodriguez testified before the Court of Arbitration in Sports in Switzerland.
By winning the queen stage on the Green Mountain, Jabal Al Akhdhar, the Spanish climber gave supporting evidence that his Katusha squad deserved a WorldTour license.
“Your honors, I have just beaten Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Chris Froome (Sky) up a grade that averages 10% with some sections hitting 18%. Can we have our license now because I’d really like to race the Tour de France?”
Rodriguez timed his move to perfection, hitting the other top climbers hard with one kilometer to the finish and just one day before CAS is supposed to render a judgement on the case.
El Purito accomplished more for his Katusha squad than a bunch of Russian lawyers and their book-length legal documents. “It was really a spectacular win,” said Rodríguez afterwards. “I’m very happy for this performance; my rivals are great riders, so the fact I managed to take this stage makes this victory even more important.” He was exhausted so forgot to mention his big win will be felt all the way to Switzerland and CAS headquarters.
Katusha’s captain knows the road up the Green Mountain after riding Big O several times and he put that experience to good use. “I knew this climb very well, because this is the third year that I’ve taken part in the Tour of Oman,” he said. “It’s really demanding, but I knew where to start my attack and this helped me a lot. Moreover, my teammates worked perfectly — they brought me into the first positions, in order to take on that climb at my best.”
The question is whether an impressive early season win will cancel out the ethical issues that surround the team. The UCI allegedly turned down Katusha because of Denis Menchov’s connections to the evil Dr. Ferrari, the EPO positive of sprinter Denis Galimzyanov and team manager Vyacheslav Ekimov’s days riding for the dirtiest team in sports, the US Postal squad of Lance Armstrong.
The Green Mountain is a serious climb so maybe, just maybe it will get Katusha the positive news it so desperately requires. CAS will let us know tomorrow if Rodriguez has pulled them out of the fire.