Saturday 17 August 2019

Nicholas Roche 'a bit worried' by role ahead of Tour de France start

Nicholas Roche, wearing the green points jersey during the Vuelta, will be part of the Team Sunweb team for the upcoming Tour de France
Nicholas Roche, wearing the green points jersey during the Vuelta, will be part of the Team Sunweb team for the upcoming Tour de France

Ian Parker

Nicolas Roche has joked to being "a bit worried" going into the start of the Tour de France this weekend in an unfamiliar role.

With Team Sunweb's star man Tom Dumoulin sidelined by injury, the Dubliner will be free to target stage victories and breakaways over the next three weeks.

While Roche has been seen in breakaways on many occasions - taking Vuelta stages wins in 2013 and 2015 - this is the first time he has started a Grand Tour with that as his main objective.

"When it's happened before it's been because of some catastrophe or emergency, usually a crash of our (general classification) rider," Roche said.

"This time it's a bit of a no man's land for me. I need to save energy on some days in order to go deeper on others."

Roche will need to lose time in stages early in the Tour in order to be allowed to join breakaways. If he is too high on the general classification, rival teams would work to shut down any move Roche made.

"I'm a bit worried," the 35-year-old added with a laugh. "I've never had it in the back of my mind to be setting out to lose time.

"On the first mountain stages, it was always about fighting for position or fighting to help someone else's position, and then maybe you lose some time, too.

"But at the end of the day, many times I've been in the position of going for breakaways. It's just with different fatigue or stress."

Roche's form looks strong coming into the Tour. He finished 10th in the Tour de Suisse last month which has given him plenty of confidence for a strong second half of the season, which is expected to include a ride in La Vuelta.

"I was good," he said of his form in Switzerland. "I was quite happy with my preparation after a lighter start of the year building up to this block.

"I'm riding in San Sebastian (in August) and most likely the (Vuelta) and the Italian Classics, so I've a long way to go.

"I've really built the season gradually to be in good shape now. It was good to finally go and give it a try for myself, and nice to prove that I still have it."

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