Roche puts Tour personal ambitions on hold to ride under Contador at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Roche puts Tour personal ambitions on hold to ride under Contador at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank

by Shane Stokes at 9:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Irishman confirms move to team after spending entire pro career with French squads

Nicolas RocheFollowing on from recent reports that the Irishman was likely to ride with the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team in 2013, Nicolas Roche has today confirmed his move to the squad of Alberto Contador.

Roche will compete under the double Tour de France winner for the next two years, giving up his personal ambitions in the Tour de France during that time but having opportunity to learn and develop into a stronger rider.

He is also likely to be given personal opportunity in races which Contador does not take part in.

Roche revealed the news in his Irish Independent diary today, stating that the opportunity to work under Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank owner Bjarne Riis was a big factor in the decision. “For years my dad has been telling anyone prepared to listen that I need a strong, charismatic directeur sportif who can take me in hand and had the knowledge and years of experience to help me progress,” he wrote.

His father, the 1987 Tour winner Stephen Roche, had previously said that he wanted Ag2r La Mondiale captain Nicolas to move on from the French team; his agent Andrew McQuaid confirmed to VeloNation one week ago that this was almost certain to happen.

“After eight years in a French team, he is definitely interested in considering offers from teams from elsewhere,” he said then. “There were lots of negotiations during the Tour with Ag2r and other teams. A contract hasn’t been signed as that can’t be done until August 1st, but he has pretty much decided where he will go.”

Roche said in his newspaper diary that Saxo Bank directeur sportif Nick Gates made the initial contact, then
Riis followed up on that.

That conversation made a big impression on him. “Those few minutes that we spent talking about the possibility of me joining his team almost gave me goosebumps,” he wrote.

Contador is the undisputed team leader and Roche accepts that that he must ride for the Spaniard in the Tour. The contract is for two years and so at the end of that time he can decide if he wants to stay in that role or move elsewhere and use the experience gained to lead another team. In the meantime, though, he is sure he'll get his own chances.

“I don’t think Contador will be riding all three Grand Tours so that may see me ride one of the other two, the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a Espana as team leader. If not, I’m sure I will get my chance in other races,” he wrote.

The Irishman has a career best Grand Tour placing of seventh in the 2010 Vuelta a España. He was affected last year by injury but came into strong form for the Tour of Beijing, where he won a stage and finished eleventh.

This year he finished nineteenth in the Tour of California, tenth in the Tour de Suisse, second in the Irish road race championships and eleventh in the Tour de France.

He has said that he will target the Vuelta a España with Ag2r La Mondiale, the French team enabling him to take part even though any points gained by him will become part of Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank’s haul and will be used to try to secure a WorldTour ranking for the team.


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