Monday 22 December 2014

Nicolas Roche off on solo run as only Irish rider in Tour de France

Gerard Cromwell

Published 27/06/2014 | 02:30

Nicolas Roche will line up at the Tour de France for his Tinkoff-Saxo team, but he will be the only Irish rider to compete in this year's grand tour. Photo: Harry Engels - Velo/Getty Images
Nicolas Roche will line up at the Tour de France for his Tinkoff-Saxo team, but he will be the only Irish rider to compete in this year's grand tour. Photo: Harry Engels - Velo/Getty Images

Nicolas Roche will be the only Irish starter in this year's Tour de France when the race begins in Yorkshire next weekend.

Roche will line up for the Tinkoff-Saxo team in fine form after a stage win and overall victory at the three-day Route du Sud stage race in France last weekend and is set to support an in-form Alberto Contador during the three-week race.

However, Roche's cousin Dan Martin, a stage winner at last year's Tour, will not ride. The Garmin Sharp leader is still recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in the opening-stage team time trial at the Giro d'Italia in Belfast.

While he will return to racing at the National Championships in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath, on Sunday, Martin says he is not near full fitness and will instead take on the Tours of Austria and Poland in the lead-up to his main targets of the Vuelta a Espana and World Road Race Championships.

Although he has taken four victories already in this his debut season, Carrick-on-Suir sprinter Sam Bennett was also left out of his NetApp Endura's first start in the Tour de France when the team was announced yesterday.

The German squad have instead focused their team around Czech climber Leopold Koening, who won a stage and finished ninth overall on his debut Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana last year.

Bennett, a former U-23 title winner, will also ride the national championships on Sunday.

Despite a solid performance at the Giro , where he finished third on stage 18 and featured in numerous breakaways, Philip Deignan will not feature in Team Sky's squad for the Tour either.

After an impressive showing on the Tour de Suisse last week, the Donegal ace will ride the National Championships on Sunday before taking a break ahead of a possible ride in the Vuelta in August.

Former title winner Roche will skip the national championships to spend time checking out some of the early stages of the Tour with his Tinkoff-Saxo team.

Irish Independent

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