Cycling: Roche picked to ride Tour
Irish champion Nicolas Roche's fine early-season form and successful return from injury was rewarded yesterday with the news that the Dubliner will be on the start line when the Tour de France's prologue time-trial gets under way in Rotterdam on July 3.
Roche was yesterday named alongside John Gadret and Christophe Riblon as one of only three riders to have already done enough to earn selection on the Ag2r-La Mondiale Tour de France team.
His inclusion takes the pressure off him to perform well in this week's Tour of Switzerland and he can now concentrate on a second ride in the world's biggest bike race.
"I'm happy with my selection," said Roche yesterday. "I expected a place really. I've done enough all year to deserve my place. I think the team trust me and know I will do my best to have good form in July."
Fourth place in his comeback race from a hamstring injury in the GP Canton d'Argovie last week indicated he had lost none of his sharpness and ninth place on yesterday's third stage of the Tour of Switzerland confirmed he is still in good enough shape to be in the shake-up in Tour stages.
Franck Schleck took the stage victory ahead of Rigoberto Uran and Baukke Molen.
Ireland's Philip Deignan continues his road to the Tour in Switzerland also.
The Letterkenny pro put in a few big turns on the front of the peloton for his Cervelo Test Team yesterday and finished 10 minutes down on the stage.