How Joaquim Rodriguez became world number one – again

Spanish superstar Joaquim Rodriguez’s stunning solo attack to win the Giro di Lombardia saw the Katusha rider leapfrog Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) to top the UCI WorldTour rankings.

And with Froome and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) both missing the final race in the WorldTour calendar, next week’s Tour of Beijing, Purito can celebrate being world number one for the second consecutive year – and third time in the last four.

Rodriguez celebrates his triumph at the Giro di Lombardia, which ensured he topped the world rankings for the second consecutive year (Pic: Sirotti)

Nobody has come close to matching Rodriguez’s all-round consistency since the current world rankings were launched in their current format in 2009, and indeed no rider had previously finished number one in consecutive years since the UCI merged its Road World Rankings and Road World Cup in 2004.

But don’t just take our word for it – Irish legend Sean Kelly, the very first rider to be crowned world number one (a title he earned for five consecutive years) is effusive in his praise for Purito.

“He is certainly among the world’s top riders,” Kelly told RCUK. “I think his results prove how good he is.

“In the last couple of years he is very much up there as one of the world’s best in the three-week stage races but also in the Classics – he can do them all.

“Having moved out of the shadow of Alejandro Valverde over the last few years, he has proved himself capable of winning the big events and also in the Grand Tours, I think we could see him winning one of those too.”

And Kelly, whose five years at the top of the world rankings from 1984 to 1988 have never been matched, insists being crowned world number one is a huge achievement.

“You have to be at a top level to be present throughout quite a lot of the year,” he explained. “If you are present at the front of the races, and you’re doing that for a longer period of time, then you will see that your results are rewarded.

“Back in the 1980s it was all new. I was the first guy to be crowned world number one and I became it for five years in a row.

Rodriguez’s imperious form over the last couple of years has seen him rise to the upper echelons of world cycling (Pic: Sirotti)

“It was really important to me, because it was something new for all the riders and there was big publicity surrounding it.”

So just how did the diminutive Spanish climber top the world again? We pick out five moments which defined another sensational year for the 34-year-old.

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