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Joaquim Rodríguez retiring after memorable career

Joaquim Rodriguez
Josh Cunningham
11 Jul 2016

After the news that Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez is retiring, we take a look back at his impressive - if heartbreaking - career highlights.

Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez, the 37 year old Spaniard, has said that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season during a tearful announcement at a press conference on the first rest day of the Tour de France. 

The Team Katusha leader currently sits 5th overall in this, his fifth outing at the race, and is hoping to replicate the successes of the 2015 edition, where he won two stages. But it could be that with one eye on the Olympics - a race that suits his strengths as a rider - the Tour might be being used as a prepatory event, rather than a peak. 

The Olympics will be Rodriguez' last chance to showcase his abilities as a punchy rider who can climb - and a founder of the fashionable 'puncheur' rider definition, perhaps - on the hilly Rio course. Hailed by some as the best world champion that never was, Rodriguez' career seems to in some ways have been punctuated by a slight shortcoming on the biggest stages, and victory in Rio would certainly leave few commentators hailing it as undeserved.   

Joaquim Rodriguez

After turning professional in 2001 with the ONCE-Eroski team and spending three years with the Spanish outfit and picking up a win at Paris-Nice, Rodriguez then spent four years with Saunier-Duval and another four with Caisse d'Epargne, but was unable to remove himself from the shadow of Alejandro Valverde. After finishing third at the 2009 world championships, in 2010 he switched to the Katusha team to become an outright team leader, and it was here that he would go on to enjoy the best, and final, years of his career. 

Since 2010 Rodriguez has finished second at the Giro in 2012, second at the Vuelta in 2015, as well as third at the Vuelta in 2010 and 2010, and third at the Tour in 2013. On top of these Grand Tour exploits he's topped the World Tour rankings in 2010, 2012 and 2013, won Fleche Wallonne once (2012) and the Giro di Lombardia twice (2012, 2013) and finished second at the World Championships behind Rui Costa. 

So few major victories seem ingongruous with how visible and lively an addition Joaquim Rodriguez has been to the modern peloton, his ability to mix climbing prowess on both long climbs and smaller bergs, as well as his powerful surges on uphill finales, making him a rider that we could seldom look over, or call boring. 

Whether he will find the top step at this year's Tour, or at the Olympics in Rio, remains to be seen. But should he not make it, it won't be for lack of trying.

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