Roche back training, still on course for Tour de France
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Roche back training, still on course for Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 10:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Injury
Irish champion likely to return in Tour de Suisse

Nicolas Roche’s chances of riding this year’s Tour de France got back on track yesterday when he was given the green light to resume training and prepare for the Tour of Switzerland.

Roche had been sidelined for two and a half weeks due to a hamstring tear incurred during the time trial in the Tour de Romandie, but a MRI scan yesterday showed that this is almost fully recovered. He was due to resume gentle training sessions this morning and, providing there are no issues, will ramp up the volume next Monday.

As expected, he will make his comeback in the Tour of Switzerland rather than the Dauphiné Libéré in France, resuming competition on June 12th. Providing that race goes well, he would appear to have a good chance of riding his second Tour.

Roche has been one of the strongest performers for his Ag2r La Mondiale team this year, with top five stage finishes in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Volta a Catalunya, as well as fifth overall in the latter.

Those performances should stand to his credit in terms of consideration for the Tour team, as will his second and fourth places on stages last year. However he’ll still need to perform well in Switzerland in order to seal his place on the squad.

VeloNation spoke to Roche yesterday evening, and got an update on his recovery.

VeloNation: Nicolas, you’ve been sidelined for over two weeks but now you can start training again. How do you feel about that?

Nicolas Roche: It’s great..I’m pretty happy to get the green light…finally! I will be fine to do the Tour of Switzerland, I don’t see any problems with doing that.

VN:You’ve been doing swimming during your enforced time off the bike – how much have you been getting on?

NR: I go once a day. I do about an hour a day. I think I have done 14 sessions in 18 days. I’ve also used the time to lose some weight; that was the most important thing that I wanted to do, as well as recover. I am happy with that, as it was hard.

My weight went up since the start of the year, it was difficult to keep really low. After Catalunya, I was away for three weeks in Spain sitting around in a hotel. That doesn’t help with the weight…when you are racing every two or three days and sitting around for two or three days, it is terrible. The weight had gone up during the Classics a bit.

VN: Did that affect you in those races, do you think?

NR: Yes, weight always affects you. But I was down so low at the start of the year, I can’t stay at that…it would just be so easy if you could pick a weight and stick on it for the whole year, but that’s impossible. It is only normal that it will change.

VN: You can start back on the bike tomorrow [Wednesday]. How much training can you do, initially?

NR: Not much. For the first week, it is only a couple of hours easy there on the lake front in Italy. It is not a lot. I will try to go swimming in the afternoon as well. Just doing an hour, hour and a half on the bike is not going ot make me change anything. At least if I keep doing some swimming in the afternoon, I can keep pressure on my heart rate.

I will see how things go at the end of the week, I will talk again with the coach. But the ideal situation is that I feel okay when I get back on the bike, and then from Monday onwards I can start a normal week. I will give myself five days of building up for it, and hopefully can go on a ride as if it was a normal week next week. It’s important to keep in mind that I am not going to do sprints on the first training ride!

VN: You experienced the hamstring problem after the time trial in the Tour de Romandie. Do you have any idea now why it cropped up?

NR: We are thinking it’s the position on the time trial bike, because I wanted to go down so low for the aerodynamics...I was down very low and my body didn’t support it. I have been putting too much pressure on it. The other time trials I did this year were only five kilometres and eight kilometres, so I didn’t feel so much strain on it [the hamstring]. The fact that I was doing another twenty-odd kilometres in Romandie made a difference.

VN: What do you do next?

NR: I will be going to a training camp with the team at the La Toussuire ski station, for three or four days. Then after that I will go to the Tour de Suisse. Maybe I’ll do Gippingen [now called GP du Canton d'Argovie], a race in Switzerland before that, but that is not certain.

VN: So do you still have any twinges from your hamstring?

NR: Not so far, no. I don’t feel any pain from it, so hopefully it stays that way.

VN: So do you think your chances are still good to do the Tour?

NR: Well, the Tour de France is not just the Dauphine as preparations. Doing the Tour de Suisse doesn’t mean I am not going to the Tour; it just gives me an extra week to prepare rather than going to the Dauphiné too early. I still want to stay optimistic about the Tour.

VN: Your performances this year will surely boost your chances of being selected. If you look at how you performed compared to the rest of the team, you were one of the strongest guys all season. That has to be considered as well.

NR: Yes, hopefully. Not like a payback, but perhaps a thank you-type thing. I hope that’s taken into account. Certainly, I will not be on top form the first day, but I hope the form will come. If it is not there at the start, it will be there at the start of the second week or whenever. I am pretty sure I can be competitive at the Tour.

I have been going far better this year than last year.

VN: Finally, you are the Irish road race champion – given your revised racing programme, do you still expect to make it back for this year’s championships?

NR: Of course I will, yes. After the Tour de Suisse, I will go down to Varese, get my suitcase and fly over to Ireland. I want to try to ride the Stephen Roche Classic on the Wednesday before, as well.


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