I'm hardly going out on a limb when I say Joaquim Rodriguez isn't the best rider in the world against the clock, but I do wonder whether too much is being made of that weakness in this year's race.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The Vuelta a España is light on time trialling kilometres this year and will see its first and only individual time trial come in Stage 11, a 39.4km run from Cambados to Pontevedra.

For Rodriguez, this will be his queen stage. It is a discipline that has single-handedly ended his hopes of winning more Grand Tours than I'm sure he would care remember.

This year's Giro d'Italia will be freshest in most people's mind, Purito finished 47 seconds behind Canadian Ryder Hesjedal to see the maglia rosa slip off his back by the merest of margins, 16 seconds.

An equally hard pill to swallow came in 2010, when the Spaniard conceded six minutes and 12 seconds on Stage 17 of La Vuelta, a flat loop around Peñafiel.

He would later describe it as "the worst time trial of his life".

Only months before he'd finished seventh at Le Tour while failing to make it inside the top-100 riders on either of the two time-trials, granted one was a prologue.

I could go on, but yeah. Broken record and all that.

So here we are again.

A la, the Giro in May, and La Vuelta in 2010, Rodriguez will again start a key time trial wearing the leader's jersey, with his Grand Tour success again leaning on the hopes of his shaky chrono ability.

So will it be a case of history repeating? I like to think not.

Rodriguez has actually polished his achilles heel significantly since he began his quest for Grand Tour success, driven in no small part by the shock of his 2010 Vuelta flop.

Consider the 2010 Vuelta 'horror' TT, the 2011 Vuelta TT and the Giro this year. All were pancake flat; in the former Rodriguez lost more than eight second per kilometre to stage winner Peter Velits.

At last year's Vuelta he conceded 6.89 seconds per kilometre to Tony Martin, and only 3.68 at the Giro. The latter was the shortest, but at 31.5km it's also reasonably comparable to Pontevedra. More importantly it was the most recent.

Counting in the Spaniard's favour is the fact that this won't be pancake flat. The 39.4 kilometres he'll be facing includes plenty of climbing, notably the Alto Monte Castrove, and that should play into Purito's hands.

The chances are he will lose time, nobody is doubting that, but a loss of between 90 seconds and two minutes, which I'm sure he'd take in a heartbeat, would place him in good stead, particularly on the way he's climbing.

Chris Froome and Alberto Contador are certainly no slouches against the clock, but neither are in the condition that will see them leg-out on Rodriguez the way they might normally.

Contador is returning from six months out of competition, and looks weaker than we're accustomed to seeing, and Froome is starting to show signs of fatigue after a long season.

Rodriguez told El Mundo earlier this week that he expects "we could end up all being very close overall."

If such a scenario plays out, I'd back Rodriguez to take home his first Grand Tour of his career. The third weeks will suit the Spaniard, and freshness always plays a factor. He wants it more. This is the hole in his palmares.

Stage 11 will be a date with destiny for Rodriguez - can he do it?