Kreuziger, Roche lay out season targets; both determined to impress in 2014
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kreuziger, Roche lay out season targets; both determined to impress in 2014

by Shane Stokes at 6:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Irishman recovering from knee problem; Czech rider planning extended stay in Gran Canaria

Roman KreuzigerThey’ll be racing in support of Tinkoff Saxo team leader Alberto Contador in the Tour de France, but Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche have made clear that they too will harbour personal ambitions during the 2014 season.

Kreuziger rode backup for Contador in last year’s Tour but his strong form saw him finish just one place – and exactly one minute – behind the Spaniard. In addition to that performance, he also won Amstel Gold in April, was third overall in the Tour de Suisse and third in the GP San Sebastian.

His consistency saw him beat Contador in the final WorldTour ranking, a measure of season-long consistency. He was eleventh, four places ahead of his more highly-paid team-mate.

Now 27 years of age and thus entering his peak years, he is hungry to keep progressing in the sport. “My ambitions are similar to last year,” Kreuziger said at Tuesday’s team launch. “To have a strong first half in the Classics and then, for sure, I will try and do well in the Tour of Switzerland. And then to be at the Tour de France for Alberto. Hopefully we can do a little bit better than 2013.”

Kreuziger has been together with his team-mates at their post-season training camp in Gran Canaria. “It’s been fantastic. We’ve had one day of bad weather but, apart from that, the sun has shone,” he said. “It’s the perfect place to train in January. The team stay a week more but I stay two-and-a-half weeks longer because the weather makes it difficult to train in the Czech Republic. So my wife is coming over to stay.

“You can train everyday, which is important for me to find shape for [Tour of] Oman. Then Tirreno.”

Roche is also in Gran Canaria but his form is not as advanced as many of his team-mates, thanks for a knee injury he picked up at the team’s November camp. He recently got the all clear to return to training, but has been told to build things up gradually.

He spoke to VeloNation two weeks ago about the issue, saying that he would undoubtedly suffer in his first races, but that he believed that he would still be able to hit peak form in time for his first big season goal, the Giro d’Italia.

“The knee is slowly but surely getting there,” he stated Tuesday, updating the situation. “I tore the insertion of the quadriceps where it links to the kneecap back in November. It was a beach activity but I’ve just resumed training, albeit I’m taking it slowly.”

He hasn’t ridden the Giro d’Italia since his debut season in 2007 and would normally follow a different build-up to the Tour de France. However he has decided to change his programme this season as the Italian race begins somewhere it never has before; his native Ireland.

Nicolas Roche“It’s a new challenge for me because I’ve never gone for form so early in the year,” said Roche, talking about the challenge that will present. “The last five or six years I’ve either gone for the Tour or the Vuelta, so I’ve always taken an easier or less-in-form beginning to the year. That’s quite exciting.”

He’s clear that the Giro will be a career highlight for him. “Ireland’s experienced a great boom over the last four or five years and the sport’s attracting new riders all the time. I’m sure I’ll receive a great atmosphere at Belfast, all the way down to Dublin. Every year the number of Irish beside the road at the Tour de France is incredible and on the increase. So I’m really looking forward to being there.”

He’s already said that he won’t start the Giro without planning to finish the race; in other words, he has no intentions of doing ten days and then withdrawing to save himself for the Tour.

Instead, he hopes that he’ll get a similar bounce in form in his second Grand Tour as he did in the 2013 Vuelta a España, where he won a stage, led the race and finished fifth overall.

If that works out, he anticipates also going well in the Tour de France, backing Contador to what he, Kreuziger and the rest of the team hope will be a third Tour de France success.

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