Roche satisfied thus far with his Tour de France, expects to ride into form
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Roche satisfied thus far with his Tour de France, expects to ride into form

by Shane Stokes at 12:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France
Aim on Mûr de Bretagne is simply to avoid losing time

Nicolas RocheAg2r La Mondiale leader Nicolas Roche has said that he is aiming to ensure he doesn’t lose time to his most likely GC riders over the next few days, and that he hopes to gradually ride into form prior to the start of the Tour's mountain stages.

The Irish pro was 19th on Saturday’s first stage, finishing at the back of the group six seconds behind the winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto). His Ag2r La Mondiale team was then 13th in yesterday’s team time trial, dropping 53 seconds to Thor Hushovd’s Garmin Cervelo team.

Roche rolled in 33rd on today’s race to Redon, crossing the line in the same time as stage winner Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo). He is now 40th overall, 53 seconds off the yellow jersey of Hushovd, and is satisfied with how things are going thus far.

“What is important for me is not losing time on my direct rivals for the overall. There are so many riders close together, probably 100 within less than one minute, so the actual position on GC does not mean a lot to me,” he told VeloNation. “What is important that I am still in line with those I will be competing with, or haven’t lost too much time to them.

“Okay, I have already lost 50 seconds on Schleck, but Andy is not my direct competitor. He is Contador’s competitor. I’m talking more about the other guys for the rest of GC.”

Prior to the start of the Tour, Roche admitted that he was not in his best shape possible. That’s due to a big crash he suffered in the Criterium du Dauphiné, which made him pull out of the race two days before the end, and take a total of five days off the bike. However despite that he has performed solidly thus far, though, finishing with that front group on the opening stage and helping his Ag2r La Mondiale team in the team time trial.

“Saturday was encouraging,” he said. “It was important for the head for me to try to stay up there with the top guys. I was definitely not the most comfortable, but it would have been too easy if I was flying on the first day with the guys after spending five days not riding. I was just satisfied to be last man in that little group. I was struggling, but was at least with them. It was also reassuring for the team to see that.

“The team did a great job for me during the team time trial. Everybody really worked well. We were ninth in Montpellier two years ago, but that was a much harder time trial route with a few climbs… This time it was was just pure flat, and we have only taken a climbers’ team to give me a hand in the mountains.

“I told the guys beforehand that we had to be focussed, that we would be satisfied with somewhere between ten and twelve places, with less than a minute. So we were 13th, but at 53 seconds, so that was in the deal. Everyone really gave it everything. We didn’t make any mistakes, we just couldn’t go much faster. So I was happy.”

Tomorrow’s stage to the Mûr de Bretagne finishes with a steep climb up to the finish. World champion Thor Hushovd admitted that the ramp to the line was too tough for him; that should also rule out the other sprinters, and most likely pave the way for another stage win for Gilbert. Roche can be solid on such climbs, but plays down any suggestions that he’ll jostle for a high finish.

“It is still a bit too soon for me to try. I don’t think I have the legs to actually try to do something for myself,” he admitted. “The goal there is to be at the front and to try to stay with the guys without losing time. I’ll think of attacking next week or in the mountains, but for now it is just a question of getting my rhythm back.”


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