Saturday 23 September 2017

Nicolas Roche's Giro d'Italia diary: 'My teammate flew over crash rail 20 metres into a field'

Giro d'Italia diary - Nicolas Roche

Nicolas Roche's contention for a top GC placing in the Giro d'Italia may have ended, but he still has a job to do supporting teammate Rafal Majka. Photo: Harry Engels - Velo/Getty Images
Nicolas Roche's contention for a top GC placing in the Giro d'Italia may have ended, but he still has a job to do supporting teammate Rafal Majka. Photo: Harry Engels - Velo/Getty Images

Nicolas Roche

Thursday May 22, Stage 12: Barbaresco -Barolo 42km individual time trial.

Having crashed on a descent and fallen into a muddy ditch, my Danish team-mate Chris Anker Sorensen finished yesterday's stage looking like he'd been dragged through a hedge backwards.

Even though he'd walloped his head and thought he'd broken his hand in the crash, Chris continued on for the next 120km or so to the finish. He was pretty badly shaken up when he got onto the team bus after the stage though and couldn't actually remember riding about 25km of the route.

Neurological tests and X-rays showed no signs of anything afterwards, but Chris had a bit of a headache going to bed, so our Tinkoff-Saxo team doctor monitored him during the night, waking him a few times to make sure he was okay.

Although he responded normally, the team thought it was best to stop him from racing today, so he was forced out of this Giro this morning. but he'll stay with us for a few days so the doctor can keep an eye on him before he goes home.

After Michael Rogers' stage win yesterday, we had a pretty long transfer to our next hotel, but a visit from my girlfriend, a glass of champagne and some tiramisu made by the team chef made up for that.

This morning I did an hour on the home trainer after breakfast and then had some rice and an omelette around 11.30 before leaving for the start of the time trial at 12.45.

As I'm currently 28 minutes behind race leader Cadel Evans, am not a time trial specialist and was never going to win the stage, there was no pressure on me to ride flat out today.

Usually before a time trial, when I'm trying to do a good ride, I warm up on my time-trial bike, which means the mechanics have to change the back wheel before the stage. Today, though, I didn't want to put any extra stress on the mechanics, so I warmed up on my road bike before grabbing my TT bike to head to the start ramp.

It was lashing rain at the start, so, like a lot of riders, I ducked into a VIP tent in the nearby start village for cover a few minutes before rolling down the ramp.

With the rain pelting down and the roads getting slippery, I didn't go full gas today, but instead rode parts of the course hard and parts really easy.

The hardest thing for me today was that, for the first time in a long time, I hadn't ridden the course beforehand which encouraged me to slow down every time I went into a blind corner.

I didn't want to take any risks in the wet, especially as I'd seen the guy who started in front of me, Tobias Ludvigsson of the Giant-Shimano team, fly across a knee-high crash rail on a bend and land about 20 metres off the road in a field below.

In the end, I lost another eight minutes on today's stage, but stayed in the same 44th place overall that I'd been in before the start.

The finish area was so small today that no team buses were allowed and instead, the race organisers had a hotel room booked for each team.

After I crossed the line, I got handed my backpack from the soigneur, went to the hotel, got showered and changed and got the team car back to my room where I tried to chill out a bit before getting a massage and dinner.

My team-mate Rafal Majka just got in about a quarter of an hour ago after doing a brilliant ride in the time trial, finishing fourth, a minute and 39 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Rigoberto Uran of Omega Pharma Quickstep.

CONSOLIDATED

We were expecting him to do well, but he really consolidated his third place overall and has set himself up very well for a podium placing on this Giro now.

For my Tinkoff-Saxo team, it will be all about defending that placing now. The team are right behind Rafal and I'm pretty excited about trying to help him stay in the top three or even move up if he can.

There is a lot of racing to be done yet, though, and depending on team tactics, I may get a chance to go up the road later on in the race.

But when I was going for top five placing at the Vuelta last year Rafal really helped me in the tough mountain stages. Now it's my turn to pay him back.

GIRO D'ITALIA, LIVE, EUROSPORT, 1.30pm

Irish Independent

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