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'It was never about just saying 'oh my legs hurt'' - Roche explains secrets to Tour diary success

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Nicolas Roche's Tour De France column will appear in the Irish Independent and on Independent.ie for the 10th time this year. Photo by Stephen McMahon/Sportsfile

Nicolas Roche's Tour De France column will appear in the Irish Independent and on Independent.ie for the 10th time this year. Photo by Stephen McMahon/Sportsfile

Nicolas Roche's Tour De France column will appear in the Irish Independent and on Independent.ie for the 10th time this year. Photo by Stephen McMahon/Sportsfile

For the 10th time in his career Nicolas Roche is on the startlist of the Tour de France, which rolls into action along the Promenade des Anglais in the city of Nice this Saturday.

And once again the most experienced Grand Tour rider in Irish cycling history will be bringing our readers inside the action with his unique daily diaries direct from the biggest bike race in the world. As well as trying to finally land that elusive Tour stage win, Roche will be busy bringing us the thrills and spills from the three-week race with all the usual colour and tales of suffering.

Of course, this year’s event will be like no other, with unique Covid-19 challenges to overcome for the organisers and teams before the riders even consider the 3,470km of racing, the 29 categorised climbs or the five summit finishes that will be crucial in deciding the winner of the yellow jersey when they reach Paris.

Roche’s connection with the Irish Independent stretches back to 2009, the year of his Tour debut, and right from that first series his diary proved a winner with our readers. That maiden voyage saw Roche record his best Tour stage result when he was beaten into second after a day in the breakaway. The tensions of that day on the road spilled over into an infamous showdown between Roche and Italian rider Daniele Bennati, which he would described in great detail in his diary.

"This morning before the start, I waited along with the Italian media outside the Liquigas team bus. We were all waiting on one man - Daniel Bennati. While they were waiting to grab him for a few words, I was waiting to grab him by the throat - and that's exactly what I did, in front of the press." wrote Roche, pulling no punches with his write-first, think later attitude of his early years. Bennati would go on to become a team-mate and remains one of his closest friends.

Speaking last week in a video interview broadcast ahead of the first Irish Independent Zwift Race, Roche gave his thoughts on why his Grand Tour diaries had endured for so many years.

"From day one I’ve always been very open," he explained. "I just said what came out of my mouth without thinking. It’s had some good moments and moments when I regret saying things. Sometimes I was not overly politically correct. It wasn’t about just saying ‘oh my legs hurt’, because we all know your legs hurt when you’re cycling."

We can expect more of the same in the weeks to come.

And this year online subscribers will be first to read Roche's insights with each diary published on Independent.ie in the hours after each stage and then also in the following day's print edition.

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Six of the best from the Nicholas Roche Grand Tour archives

'They called me every name under the sun' - July 20 2009

'It was so cold that 14 riders abandoned with hypothermia' - September 9 2013

‘If John Gadret is found dead in his hotel room in the morning, I will probably be the primary suspect' - July 20, 2010

'I've won more jerseys in the past three weeks than in the rest of my career' - September 16 2013

'For once I hadn't messed it up and let out a triumphant roar as I took the stage win' - September 11 2015

'The crash that ended my Vuelta was one that really shouldn't have happened' - August 30 2019


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