The Spaniard will be the last man to support Óscar Freire in the leadout to the win in Copenhagen's road race, where he will start for the first time as elite after four participations into junior and U23 ranks In a season where he's established as one of the world's top riders, José Joaquín Rojas could not miss the start at the Worlds road race in Copenhagen on Sunday. Ageg 26, the Spanish champion will get back in national team colours after his caps as junior -just a step behind the podium (4th) in 2003- and U23. Ranked more than 40 times within the first ten during his racing days in 2011, the victories Down Under, in Mallorca and the Spanish champs and his great Tour de France, where he took runner-up in the maillot vert competition, Rojas will land tomorrow on Danish soil with the aim to be the last man to support Spain's big chance Óscar Freire for his fourth world title.
Above all, a reward to my performances throughout the season and also to all years I’ve been battling to get a spot into the national team. I already rode the Worlds as junior and U23, but the elite one was getting hard for me and now I’m hoping to get into the squad not to leave it anytime soon. I thought many times of the Worlds during the season because I knew it would be suiting me really well and that it should be a great chance. That’s why we planned the final part of the season around this race. Getting into Spanish national team colours again is a pride for me. Why is it so special? Especially because not riding into trade teams, not having earpieces… can make the race become a little bit crazier, less controlled.
After the Tour I took some little break, with seven or eight days of very soft training to recover from the efforts of the first part of the season. After that, we started building up the rhythm progressively, with the Worlds as goal. Firstly with volume training to get the necessary stamina, and then competing into very similar classics: Hamburg, a stagerace in France [the Tour du Poitou-Charentes], Plouay and ultimately the two races in Canada, which were hard and left us with good pace on our legs despite the long trips out and back. The Worlds are a one-day race and you can’t get burnt out training. It’s just trying to reproduce what you will find there, for example, with 6-hour rides. I would have liked to compete a little bit more into the final weeks, but I think I’m coming in good form.
We all know that the main card is Freire’s. If he feels strong, I’ll be totally committed to Óscar, and I presume I’ll be the man to stay with him into the finale. If he’s not feeling well for any reason, I might be a second card to play. However, this is my first World road race and I can’t set any concrete goal on myself. The rivals will be battling to are the same we found all season, so the fear of facing Gilbert or Cavendish, that’s something I got over long time ago.
I saw a video of the route through the Internet, and even though people say it’s not any hard, I think it will have a good point of hardness. Obviously, we won’t be reaching the finish one by one, but I think it can make some selection and make us play the race into 70 or 80 riders. It’s a route that can do very well for us two Óscar and myself, because it can take pure sprinters out, and the uphill finish might also help. In principle, teams with 9 riders will be in charge of controlling the race, but we’re calm because we’ll be having Lastras and Gárate as road captains. I’m lucky to get on well with both and they’re capable seeing things we all can’t detect into the race. That keeps you confident for the race.
People are not appointing him clearly, but for me the main favourite is Peter Sagan. He has won three stages in the Vuelta, and has shown to be one of the best in such finishes. Then, Gilbert might lack some hardness into the course, but you have to take him into account with such great season behind. I don’t rule out pure sprinters, but I think they won’t be competing for me medals with this finish. We all have total confidence on Freire. He doesn’t make mistakes in the Worlds: it’s his race, and he’s always there. He’s won it three teams, and just becuase of that, he deserves to be respected as Spain’s big contender.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS APPEARANCES
2005: U23 (33rd RR)
2004: U23 (47th RR)
2003: junior (4th RR, 23rd ITT)
2002: junior (90th RR)