Roche sidelined from bike due to injury, but says he has enough time to hit shape before Giro d’Italia
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Roche sidelined from bike due to injury, but says he has enough time to hit shape before Giro d’Italia

by Shane Stokes at 11:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Injury
 
Irishman determined to be in strong condition at race start in Belfast

Nicolas RocheVuelta a España stage winner Nicolas Roche has accepted that a lingering knee injury will make the start of his 2014 season more difficult, but continues to believe that he can be in top condition for the start of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast.

Roche has been sidelined from the bike as a result of the problem, missing out on the pre-season training that most in the peloton are racking up. However he is hoping that a complete break at this point in time will enable his body to fully recover, with the tactic a more preferable outcome than trying to push things now and to have the problem drag on.

“I got the injury in November. It was doing activities at the team training camp on one of the multi-sport days,” he told VeloNation. “I have very weak knees…I tore my cruciate ligaments when I was 15 [playing soccer – ed.] but was too young to be operated on.

“Since then my knee has been giving me trouble once in a while. Three years ago I had a bit of tendonitis from doing a lot of running in the winter. This time around, it was a proper tear.”

Roche said that he originally didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation and continued to train after the Tinkoff Saxo training camp ended. “There was a bit of a pain in the knee, but I thought that was normal,” he said. “I was just going to continue what I was doing. But after two, three weeks it was like, ‘ooof’ - the pain was still there

“I went for a MRI five days ago and we realised that I had torn the tendon which connects the quads to the knee. I have a micro tear in that part. The doctor told me to stop completely for two weeks. So I’ve another week or ten days to go.”

Roche travelled to Madrid yesterday, where he will spend New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend. While he is unable to do anything on the bike, he said that he will continue going to the gym in that time and exercising carefully.

He accepts that the situation isn’t ideal, but believes he has sufficient time to be in shape before his big objectives.

“I am behind on time but it is not a catastrophe. What is most important is that I don’t start too quick, that I let it heal. Usually with these things, the problem is the pain goes away before the tear is fully healed. I need to make sure I don’t get back on the bike too soon. That is the only thing.

“The team will have a two week training camp in January. I’ll be going to that. I obviously won’t be doing five or six hours every day like the other guys…I have to build up gradually again. But it will be good to be in the environment of the team. The physio is going to be there, too.”

Roche had a mixed season in 2013, his first with the Saxo Tinkoff team. He was over his usual weight in the Tour de France and didn’t climb as well as he expected, but went to a training camp at altitude after that race ended in order to keep working on his form.

He lost more weight prior to the Vuelta and was riding very strongly, particularly early on. He won stage two and later spent time wearing each of the various leader’s jerseys.

While his form started petering out before the end of the race, he was able to hang on to fifth overall, his best-ever Grand Tour result.

The showing boosted his confidence and he told VeloNation in a long video interview carried out in October that riding the Giro d’Italia was a big priority for him. The first three days of the 2014 race will take place in Ireland, giving him a very rare chance to compete in front of home fans in one of the sport’s top events.

Roche’s first races are scheduled to be the Tour of Oman, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan Sanremo. Although he’s been held back by his knee problem, he believes that he is still likely to do each of those events.

“For sure I will be struggling in January, but I think if I work hard and am serious, I should be okay. It is never the best situation when you get injured, but it is not the end of the world,” he said.

“Obviously it will affect me being in good condition in Oman and maybe Tirreno, but I am pretty sure it is not going to affect the Giro. That race is still over four months away, so I have time to be fit by then.

“Okay, the situation is not the best, but it could be worse. The knee injury could have happened right before the Giro.”


Also see:

Nicolas Roche video interview part I: Analysing 2013, a team change and a breakthrough Grand Tour performance
Nicolas Roche video interview part II: Getting the balance right, building for a bigger 2014 and looking further ahead


 

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