Nicolas Roche Video Interview: New autobiography, Beijing WorldTour victory and more
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nicolas Roche Video Interview: New autobiography, Beijing WorldTour victory and more

by Shane Stokes at 8:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
Irishman opens up in frank interview at end of 2011 season

Nicolas RocheThis season has been quite a mixed one for Nicolas Roche, with injuries and frustrations interrupting the momentum and progress he had built in previous years. Things however ended on a high note for the 27 year old Irishman, who took his first WorldTour victory on stage three of the Tour of Beijing, then experienced a very positive reaction to the publication of his autobiography Inside the Peloton; My Life as a Professional Cyclist.

On the day last week that VeloNation met Roche in Dundrum, close to where his father and 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche grew up, he had a very busy schedule. Apart from the 22 minute video interview this website shot with him, he had a number of radio and TV appearances and, as it turned out, an attendance at a reception where his autobiography was named as one of six contenders for the Bord Gais Energy Sports Book of the Year.

It’s a busy time but, as he said, also an enjoyable one for him. “It has been great,” he told VeloNation over a morning coffee, referring to the reception his book had been getting. “It is such an exciting experience…at the end of the day, you don’t know what to expect at all. The other day, when I did the signings in Easons [a major Irish bookstore – ed.], I was much more nervous than doing signings at the Tour de France.

“The project started about a year ago, probably after the Tour. Before the Vuelta I was talking with Gerard Cromwell [the book’s co-author, and the person with whom he has worked on his Irish Independent diaries in recent years]. We said that maybe we should get the diaries up a level. We weren’t at a book yet, but then after the Vuelta we decided to see if a book could be interesting.

“We started writing it about a year ago…it was very demanding, it was a great challenge. It was a lot of work, but was really interesting for me as there was a lot of details of my younger age that I had completely forgotten.”

One of the uncovered anecdotes reveals just how much about his young life he didn’t know. It’s a curious story, but also one which shows how focussed his mother Lydia was on supporting his father Stephen during his own pro career.

That particularly instance dates back to the very first day of his life. “I knew I was born by Caesarean, but didn’t realise it had been planned,” Roche junior recounted. “The Tour was going really close to the house, so everything was planned so that I’d be born that day and my Dad could come and visit me in the hospital.”

Nicolas RocheRoche talked about how looking back at the newspaper diaries have shown how his point of view has changed over the years, with things he previously thought were impossible now being achievable. However one of the targets he believed attainable in 2011 eluded him, showing that things can go the other way when luck is against him.

Roche was fifteenth in last year’s Tour de France and set himself the goal of going at least five places better this time round. Unfortunately a serious crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné sidelined him for several days and this disruption plus the injuries he sustained compromised his preparation.

“The Tour this year was up and down, I was hoping, always hoping,” he said. “At the Tour presentation I said to myself, ‘okay, I think I am good, I am going to be top ten.’ I was trying to keep my head focussed on the right direction. But then eventually on the Plateau de Beille stage everything just collapsed down and I thought to myself ‘oh-oh, it is not going to happen.’”

However, although it was disappointing, it was also paradoxically liberating too. “I said ‘okay, GC is out of my hand now, I will just try to go for the stage.’ I got pleasure again from cycling with the attacking.”

Victory at the end of the season:

After a somewhat frustrating Vuelta where he finished sixteenth compared to last year’s seventh, things started to turn around in GP Prato when he was eighth. He then had a very significant performance in the Tour of Beijing, where he took his first WorldTour victory on a stage.

“I was super motivated and things happened to work out great for me. That was a big relief and it saved my year,” he admitted. Ironically, Roche wasn’t actually originally due to fly to China, being scheduled instead to return to Ireland and publicise the book. However his team told him that it believed he could perform on the stage in question, and that it needed the points to try to ensure it remained in the UCI WorldTour.

Nicolas RocheHe went, and things worked out perfectly. “It was very important…the first WorldTour win. It was such a relief,” Roche said, smiling. “I have had seconds in the Tour, second in the Vuelta, second in Paris-Nice. I was just accumulating those and a load of other places. It was frustrating.”

In the video interview below, Roche talks about his specific tactics on the stage, including a decision to back off on the pedals when he received an erroneous message over his race radio. He also talks about the perfect composition of the winning break, which formed when he and Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome (Sky) bridged across to compatriot Philip Deignan (RadioShack) on the day’s final climb.

“To win races, you do need that little bit of luck and the combination of things. I think if we didn’t have Christopher or Philip, things would not have worked the same,” he said. “Froome had everything to win with the GC and there was no risk of him dropping out of it. The next days were perfectly flat, so there was no risk – he could give his all.

“Philip was in the same case as I – he had a hard year and he was looking for a victory, so he was ready to give it all as well. I had nothing to lose as well…I wanted to go for victory, and I was not interested in being caught. The three of us just went flat out…I don’t think it would have worked the same if one of the riders was different.”

Click on the image below to watch the full interview, where Roche details a broad range of topics including how the win will affect his mentality going forward, plus a planned change of tactics in races from this point onwards.



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