Dauphiné: Roche psyched for mountains, chasing top five on stage and eighth overall
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Dauphiné: Roche psyched for mountains, chasing top five on stage and eighth overall

by Shane Stokes at 7:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium du Dauphiné
 
Irishman feeling ambitious as form improves

Nicolas RocheThe ambitious Irish pro Nicolas Roche has set himself specific targets heading into the final three days of the Critérium du Dauphiné, believing that he can ride well in the mountains and move back up the general classification.

He lost time in Wednesday’s time trial and dropped from fifth to sixteenth overall due to his 43rd place there, but is generally feeling good and takes big encouragement from how Monday’s first mountain stage went.

“That climb was one hundred percent perfect for me,” he told VeloNation yesterday evening from his Ag2r la Mondiale team hotel, sounding upbeat. “There was a long drag and then a hard last kilometre. I was really happy that I was able to get a top result on that.

“The climb tomorrow [today – ed.] is similar, but then Saturday and Sunday are really hard, two really mental stages. I can’t wait to see how I am in the proper mountains.”

Roche had a difficult spring due to injury disruptions over the winter, and wasn’t in the same form then as had shown in 2010. He told VeloNation prior to the start of the Dauphiné that he had been working hard, though, with two training camps in the mountains helping him to build his condition.

Speaking then, he was slightly cautious about his chances due to his belief that he might be slightly overtrained. However that hasn’t been the case and, apart from the time trial, he’s been pleased with how he has been feeling and how he has performed.

The top result was his fifth place on Monday, which saw him cross the line just behind runner-up Joaquim Rodriguez (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana). Those three major names reflect his good performance, and so too the fact that he took eight seconds out of last year’s winner Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling).

“I’m definitely encouraged,” he said. “I’m certainly not at my top form yet, so I am happy the condition is already there and I’m competitive.

“I’m still a bit bitter about my time trial, but it is my fault I lost focus for a while. Once I was caught by Evans, I had an ego attack, so I went more quickly. I was very disappointed about that, I was thinking I would lose two minutes, but wasn’t thinking about losing three minutes thirty.

“I think one problem was concentration, but I just wasn’t on a good day. Time trialing is not usually my favourite thing and yesterday was not a great day. But anyway…hopefully in the next three days I can concentrate on getting back on some of the time I lost and come back into GC contention.”

Aside from Monday’s fifth place, he was also ninth on the following stage to Lyon. He’s sixteenth overall heading into today’s race to Les Gets, three minutes 26 behind race leader Wiggins. The mission now is to get moving upwards once more.

“I have looked at times, and think it is going to be difficult to come back to top five, even thought I was secretly hoping I can make it,” he said. “I would be happy if I was around eighth at the end of the race… I am sixteenth now with a fair bit of time lost from the time trial. I’d be happy if I could make up those eight places…after slipping back, it would be a good ride to be able to get back there.

“But more importantly, I’d like to to be able to ride top 5 on one of those three mountain stages…I think that is more important than GC. If I am top ten on the climbs every day and try to get into the top five result on one of them, I think I would be over the moon. That’s my goal now.”

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