Joaquim Rodriguez finished 2010 as the number one rider in the UCI rankings. He had a great year with several wins and many consistent finishes.
But how much do you know about him? With many riders it’s common to know where they’re from, what sort of person they are and more, at least to know their public persona. But I know nothing about Rodriguez except his nickname, Purito and that he’s from Catalonia. It sort of means “clean” in Spanish, a diminutive term… but that’s not the origin of his name.
Thanks to Vélo Magazine it appears that it comes from 2001 when the Catalan was a neo-pro with the ONCE team. He left everyone trailing one day on the final climb of a training camp. Remember, this was a team with riders like Laurent Jalabert, Carlos Sastre, Abraham Olano and more. Not content with dropping them, he made a “I’m-smoking-a-cigar” gesture to his straggling team mates as if to suggest it was all so easy.
Annoyed with this cheeky display, the senior riders said he had to smoke a real cigar at the dinner table in front of team boss Manolo Saiz. The idea was to bring him down a bit since Saiz was known for his strict ways and would surely punish a rider who started smoking at the dinner table. But a fearless Rodriguez walked into the dining room, sat down and smoked a cigar in front of everyone. Saiz’s reaction isn’t known.
Purito is a Spanish term for a small cigar, an appropriate term given his small size and the name, for obvious reasons, stuck. Now you know.