Rojas beats Cavendish at supersprint, gets over the Aubisque to take points at the finish, ends 13 points behind at end of day
Day by day, sprint by sprint, José Joaquín Rojas keeps his climb towards the coveted green jersey he already wore for three days during the opening week of the 2011 Tour de France. The Movistar Team rider shortened the gap on points leader Cavendish (HTC) by five points, the Briton having to surrender to the strength by the Spanish champion in the 12th stage of the French grandtour, 152k from Pau to Lourdes.
The 10-man breakaway leading the race left still some points behind, Rojas overtaking Cavendish on the sprint behind, as Ventoso (3rd) was also about to take another point on the Manxman. The ascent to the famous Aubisque (HC, 40k from the finish) dropped the British rider behind, while Rojas kept himself into the favourites’ group and took four more points as winner of the field sprint- his other big rival, Belgian Philippe Gilbert, jumped into the descent and came two places ahead-. Right now, Rojas is 13 points back from the leadership, while Gilbert is 11 points behind the Spaniard (264-251-240). Another opportunity for Rojas to take on the leader jersey comes tomorrow in the big Pirenaic mountain stage of this year’s Tour, finishing atop Plateau de Beille, as the supersprint (km 36) comes after the initial ascent to the Portet d’Aspet (Cat. 2), where Rojas and Gilbert can profit from their climbing abilities against Cavendish.
Jose Joaquín Rojas: “Cavendish complained about us at the intermediate sprint, but nothing wrong happened. Just like him beat us in many sprints fairly, I did the same today. He was able to take one of his teammates between me and him, and we were almost close to do the same with Ventoso. I stated it from the very start: my goal was the green jersey, and I’m fighting for it even though there was people who didn’t trust me. I tried to take as many points possible at the sprint and at the finish, even though Gilbert went apart, but we’re going step by step, and this is the way to get it. The green jersey is a fight you take day by day, step by step and can even bring us a stage victory. I find myself better and better everyday and that’s the important thing. I’ve already said those are two really good rivals, but we aren’t worse and will keep taking chances like we did until this points. There are some finishes, like Gap or Pinerolo, and tomorrow’s intermediate sprint where we can take many points on Cavendish. I’ll keep pushing until I run out of fuel.”