Roche wants more time today on Klöden, is seeking 9th or 10th overall in Paris
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roche wants more time today on Klöden, is seeking 9th or 10th overall in Paris

by Shane Stokes at 9:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Irishman in final year of contract with Ag2r La Mondiale

Nicolas RocheHaving moved up to eleventh place yesterday and currently sitting just four seconds off the top ten place of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ BigMat), Ireland’s Nicolas Roche is seeking a strong performance on today’s final big mountain stage of the Tour to secure a top ten overall in Paris.

He gained time on several riders yesterday, and also moved up two places in the general classification. One advancement was due to Frank Schleck’s non-start on the stage after testing positive, while the second was the time conceded by Andreas Klöden on an off day.

The German lost two minutes 47 seconds and Roche will try to put more pressure on him today.

“I’m hoping for the same sort of performance as yesterday,” he told VeloNation, when asked this morning about his goals.

“If I can ride like yesterday, it will be a good sign and it might bring me near to ninth place. If I can get as close as possible to Rolland, there is a possibility that the two of us can fight for that in the time trial.”

Roche was fourth-best of the GC contenders on yesterday’s stage, leading home the chasing group 58 seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas Cannondale) and the Sky Procycling duo of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

Looking at those ahead and behind him, Pierre Rolland is currently ninth overall, one minute 33 seconds ahead of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ BigMat) and one minute 37 up on Roche. The Europcar rider lost 41 seconds yesterday.

Meanwhile Roche is one minute 27 ahead of Klöden and one minute 52 up on his RadioShack Nissan Chris Horner, and identifies these as two who concern him in the days ahead.

“Behind me there are still Klöden and Horner, who are both experienced riders and very good time trialists,” he explained. “There is a 50 kilometre time trial [on Saturday – ed.] so one minute 30 on Kloeden isn’t much when you know his TT capabilities.

“Today I will hopefully put a bit more time into him to give me an extra bit of a cushion. After that, the goal is to get some time on Pinot and get as close as possible to Rolland.”

The 28 year old started the race with the ambition of finishing high up in the GC, having placed fourteenth in the 2010 edition of the race plus seventh in that year’s Vuelta a España.

“If I can finish ninth or tenth, it would be a big step up for me,” he confirmed. “It would also be important psychologically as I have been running after it for three years.

“Don’t get me wrong - I would be happy with eleventh, but tenth would be better.”

Roche has an additional reason to aim as high as possible. He is in his final year of his contract with the Ag2r La Mondiale team and knows that his bargaining power would be considerably announced with a strong Tour finish.


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