Joaquim Rodriguez – meet Froome and Wiggins

Chris Froome has won his first stage race, the Tour of Oman, and a mighty impressive win it was too. He took the lead on stage four on Green Mountain, putting time into Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, and then won the following day to extend his lead by a few seconds thanks to a time bonus.

However, he was beaten on Green Mountain by Joaquim Rodriguez and the diminutive Spaniard was one of only two riders, along with Contador, to stay with Froome when he won the next day’s stage. You’d think Froome would have registered his presence.

“Any victory over the riders that are here – Contador, Evans or Nibali – is a huge victory. I’m really happy with this.”

No mention of Rodriguez then? No?

Okay, so maybe this was just a slip, but it brought to mind Bradley Wiggins’ comments before the Green Mountain stage. He said that Contador was the favourite.

“I think he’s probably the favourite on a climb like that. Then there’s the Spanish guy from Katusha who is quite good too.”

Just a reminder that ‘the Spanish guy from Katusha’ – Rodriguez – was the top-ranked cyclist last year, finishing second in the Giro, third in the Vuelta and winning La Fleche Wallonne and Giro di Lombardia.

It’s hard to tell what Wiggins is really thinking sometimes – particularly in print. This was probably a joke or perhaps he’s deliberately belittling a major rival ahead of the Grand Tours. Or maybe he just temporarily forgot his name.

Whatever the reason, I sometimes feel that Rodriguez doesn’t get the respect he deserves. When time trials don’t play a huge part, he is surely a massive threat to any Grand Tour contender. For all that people wax lyrical about Alberto Contador, it was a tactical move which won him the Vuelta. Physically, he was second-best to Rodriguez.

I guess the reason why Rodriguez is given fractionally less respect is because he hasn’t actually won a Grand Tour yet, despite being close on a number of occasions. Maybe that will change this year – although he’s up against it when you consider the energy-saving innovation Sky have been using with Chris Froome.

In the words of the man himself.

“I literally had an armchair ride to the finish during the last stage.”

Literally.