Why is Joaquim Rodriguez called “Purito”?

Joaquim Rodriguez leads the Vuelta. Before the race he was a good pick for the podium but few thought he would outclimb Alberto Contador. But thanks to tactical riding and a fast finish he’s grabbed sufficient time bonuses to keep Contador away.

Like many cyclists he has a nickame and it’s “Purito”. It sort of means “clean” in Spanish, a diminutive term… but that’s not the origin of his name. Instead it’s because he smoked his team mates on a training camp.

In 2001 the Catalan was a neo-pro with the ONCE team. A neo pro, he did a training camp with the team and left everyone trailing on the last climb of the day. Remember, this was a team with riders like grand tour contenders like Joseba Beloki, Carlos Sastre, Abraham Olano and more. Not content with dropping them, he made an “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 lit up a cigar at the table. Saiz’s reaction isn’t known.

In smoking form

Purito is a Spanish term for a small cigar, an appropriate term given his small size and the name, for obvious reasons, stuck.

  • This is an updated copy of a previous post but there are many more readers since the last time it appeared so it’s useful to share the story again given Rodriguez is leading the Vuelta.

37 thoughts on “Why is Joaquim Rodriguez called “Purito”?”

  1. It would seem fair to say that not only tactical riding and a fast finish has got him where he is, the man is doing even the long climbs as well as anyone in the peloton. Will we see him at the Tour next year?

    • I think we need to see the Tour route once it’s unveiled in October to see if it suits. It will be more mountainous but many of the climbs used by the Tour are still the 10-20km Alpine climbs at 7% instead of what we see in the Vuelta now, shorter climbs with big changes in gradient.

  2. Humorous story, and the shoe fits. He may be little, but he’s mighty! I must say, after watching the last couple of days in the mountains, Purito’s been ultra-impressive. The three riders leading the GC are all impressive in their unique ways. Too bad they all share that one thing that makes me put an asterisk after their name. But present day, present race, I hope they’re all clean.

    That being said, today was over-the-top! Brilliant. Grueling, and offered everything I love to watch in a stage. Gotta give AC credit for his many efforts to drop Purito and Valverde, but Purito is just riding a perfect race and has his kick in high-gear.

    Kudos to the super-domestiques as well! Contador’s lieutenants pushing a grueling pace at the front
    each day is just incredible to watch. Paulinho, one of the long-standing super domestiques in the peloton has pulled for many a top rider and Saxo’s also got their other trusted mountain goats. Quintana pulling Valverde back just when it seems he might be cooked is equally impressive, and Katusha’s Dani Moreno has gotten the job done for a long while too, and sitting in 5th.

    For Froome, even Sky’s two Columbians, Henao and Uran, aren’t enough to give Chris any more gas in the tank. When you’re cooked, you’re cooked. Solid efforts to try and stay with the leaders, but not this year. His Vuelta dreams are now gone for 2012, but a fantastic season under his belt.

    Magnificent race!

  3. Geez, did you HAVE to remind me of his former team? The same one The Belgian was on during his racing days, managed by one of the ringleaders in the Spanish doping arena? Makes it look like the Vuelta final podium will be two cheaters who’ve been caught behind one who (so far) has not? Cynical? Sure. but that’s how far pro cycling has sunk these days. The advance bits from Hamilton’s book where he says if you’re careful you can be 99% sure of skating through the dope tests, makes me very hesitant to celebrate Purito’s victory, while the celebration will be even less if one of two sanctioned cheaters takes the top spot.

    • You think it’s only cycling? Ha! Even golf has doping. Why do you think Tiger Woods visited an HGH specialist in Canada? Take a look at the defensive line in the NFL and tell me that’s natural? Guys are getting popped in MLB and their team mates are shocked and horrified? Um yeah, ok. European football? Ha ha! Why do you think every sports team has a team of doctors?

      No sport (and really no career) is clean. That doesn’t make it right but it’s reality. And it will probably never change.

      • Where did I claim it was ONLY cycling? But let’s face facts, cycling is quite likely the dirtiest of pro sports, especially in the eye of John Q. Public. I have ZERO interest in any of the other sports you listed as examples of doping – and I agree that does NOT make it right. The essence of sport is destroyed by cheating, no matter if it’s chemical, mechanical, ethical or otherwise. Cycling just happens to be the one I care about.

    • So what are we going to do? You can choose not to watch, but how do you do that when it’s in your blood (pun intended)? Or you can watch and wonder who’s clean and who’s not.

      Let’s use Hamilton’s opinion about the 99%. Let’s say the three top riders on GC are all doped and will skate through all tests in this Vuelta. Well, as crappy as that is (and I despise cheaters), then the playing field may be somewhat level and we’re actually watching three riders whose performances are all being enhanced 5%, or some small percent. Really lousy, I know, but things aren’t changing fast enough. Masking agents, etc. keep these riders just ahead of the tests.

      Such an imperfect world we live in. I boycotted pro racing for several weeks because I became so fed up with Armstrong et al. crap, skanky docs and unethical managers. All of it stinks, but the sport’s my passion, even with its imperfections.

      • Technically speaking, it’s not all 5% as pointed out by JV. Some people would have better compatibility to drugs and hence gain much more in terms of performance even if they went through the same doping programme as others. That said, the micro doping of now days probably are different from the 20% gains back then.

      • So is this your national bias that you always count only three riders questionable? You wanted to put asterisks on only spanish riders and not the I-come-from-the-land-of-nowhere Kenyian Brit? This sounds ridiculous.

        • Sorry, didn’t mean any bias though the Spaniards (and Luxembourgers) are kind of late to the anti-doping party, are they not? We could add Russians, Kazaks and a few more…but the top three currently at the Vuelta just happen to BE Spanish – two convicted cheats and one who makes me wonder based on his past associations. Froome’s a big question mark as Paul Kimmage has pointed out in the past with his criticism of SKY. I won’t stop watching, but until some real progress is seen via cleaning up the corruption, it’s a lot like watching WWE these days.

        • @Vitus: If you were replying to my post (not sure), I chose only the top three riders on GC as possibly (or possibly not) being doped without regard to which country they are from. I would put an asterisk after many, many riders in the peloton, not just Spaniards. This is hypothetical only. I think we can say that most large nations have cheaters, but there is an economical factor to the use and sophistication of PEDs. Not all teams have “access,” as just buying bikes and kits and traveling costs eat up their budgets. I love to see the smaller teams’ riders win stages, like Antonio Piedra Perez (Caja Rural) — fantastic moment!

          Just for the record, I did wonder if Froome and Wiggins were clean with their top finishes at the TdF and soon after winning Gold and Silver in the Olympic TT. Froome seems more human to me now as attrition is taking its toll on these steep gradients, and because it’s late in the season and no rider can cleanly peak all season long.

          BTW, you have made a rude comment regarding Kenya, “…land-of-nowhere…” Many, many great athletes come from Kenya. Just because Froome participates in a sport that Kenya is not famous for doesn’t take away from its importance in sport and in the world.

          And yes, as others have blogged, doping doesn’t need to enter into every conversation, but at the same time, the Armstrong et al. case has created an over-sized network of links to the doping culture long prevalent in cycling. The sooner this case is closed (ha ha) the faster we can put the regurgitated talk about this behind us.

          But as long as race organizers continue to make GTs more difficult each year, riders will feel the need to get an edge to win (and just to survive). Win-at-all-costs culture. What these riders are being asked to do isn’t within the realm of “normal” human challenge. It’s torture designed for the fans and to make money.

      • 5%.. maybe.. everyone reacts differently.. so no it’s not a level playing field.. the only thing level about taking 10 riders all doping is just that: theyre all doping. if one can only afford taking testosterone to recover, while another is taking testosterone, and epo, while another is taking testosterone, epo AND blood transfusions, that’s not really level either.. it just means theyre all dopers and should be banned.

  4. Geez, did you HAVE to remind us again about doping? Can´t we just enjoy commenting about cycling without bringing doping again and again? Even if the post is about a rider nickname?

    • Here Here
      Just love our sport for what it is
      These riders are the cream anyway we look at it, thats why you and I are not in the pelaton
      For all the knockers i suggest taking a look at these athletes physical specs eg. heart rates at rest and under max watts under load
      Miguel was just unhuman AND so was Tex
      The brain is mightier than the sword

  5. Heroic rides by “Purito”, Contador and Valverde yesterday. Reminded me of the great rides of Armstrong, Pantani and Rico. Why can’t the likes of Evans, Froome and Wiggins ride like that?

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