Saturday 23 September 2017

Nicolas Roche: 'I will have to try and get up the road and chase a stage win'

Tuesday, August 5 - Stage 16: Circuito de Navarra to Logrono (40km Individual Time Trial)

Nicolas Roche competes in the Individual Time Trial on the Circuito de Navarra - Logrono (40,2km) Photo: Getty
Nicolas Roche competes in the Individual Time Trial on the Circuito de Navarra - Logrono (40,2km) Photo: Getty

Nicolas Roche

After breakfast this morning, Tejay van Garderen and I wanted to do a 'rekkie' of the time trial course before the stage began this afternoon, so an hour after breakfast we left the hotel at 9.0 for the 100km drive to the start.

Because there were kids' races being held on the motor racing circuit that made up the first 4km of the stage, we weren't allowed on it this morning so we began our recon just outside the circuit.

With a team car following each of us so that the directeur sportifs could see the route too and make notes, we got a good feel for the course, which was pretty open and had a slight tailwind for the most part, before jumping into the car and driving back to the start.

As Tejay and I were the last two riders from my BMC team scheduled to start today, we had about four hours to kill in between so after a shower and a change into casual clothes, myself and my soigneur Antony went into the start village for a coffee.

Today's start was in the middle of nowhere really so there weren't too many people around.

Nobody recognised me in my 'civvies' and it was nice to be able to just get out of the bus for a while as the rest of the guys arrived and had lunch on it before getting ready for their earlier start times.

After a light lunch of porridge, nuts and jam, I stuck on a random playlist on Spotify and just chilled out on the bus until my own start time approached.

Each team had their own pits to warm up in which at least meant we were in the shade as I hit the home trainer alongside Tejay for a 25-minute warm-up before my 4.20 start.

Although I'm now down to 17th place overall, I didn't want to just doddle through today's time trial and aimed to finish in or around the top 20-25 on the stage.

The course was quite good today, undulating but on good wide roads which should possibly have suite me but my legs still felt a bit empty from the last few days of climbing so I suppose 29th wasn't too bad.

I was surprised how the GC guys smashed the stage today, filling most of the top 10 places on the stage, although truth be told there aren't many time trial specialists left in the race at this stage.

After today, I've held onto my 17th place but, as I've said the past few days, my goals have changed now and I will have to try and get up the road and chase a stage win.

Tomorrow we're back in the mountains again, with a really hard stage featuring a second-category climb mid stage before the 8km long first-category Puerto de Alisas with 28km to go and the final sting in the tail to the summit finish at Alto de Los Machucos.

The final climb is an 'Especial Category' climb; the Vuelta's equivalent of the toughest Hors Category ascents at the Tour de France, so it will be much harder and steeper than most of the mountains we've ridden so far.

Although race leader Chris Froome opened his advantage to almost two minutes over Vincenzo Nibali with his stage win today, fifth-placed Alberto Contador is now less than two-and-a-half minutes off third-placed Wilco Keldermann and a podium spot on his last Grand Tour, so it remains to be seen if a breakaway will be allowed contest the finish. If it does, then hopefully I'll be in it.

Vuelta a Espana,
Live, Eurosport 2, 11.30

Irish Independent

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