Tuesday 17 September 2019

Nicolas Roche: 'Froome isn’t breaking rules by racing'

The fact he is allowed to compete in the Giro highlights a bigger problem with how sport is managed

Chris Froome. Photo: Luk Benies/AFP/Getty Images
Chris Froome. Photo: Luk Benies/AFP/Getty Images

Nicolas Roche: Giro d'Italia diary

Monday May 14, Rest Day

The most important thing on a rest day is to have a decent hotel as we usually stay there for two nights and there's nothing worse than being cramped up in a dingy motel room with nothing to do for a whole day.

After some pretty bleak hotels the last few days, Rohan Dennis and I were pleasantly surprised last night to be given a two-bedroom apartment, with a sea view.

After a couple of days at the start of this Giro where we argued a bit about whether the air conditioning should be on or off, myself and Rohan have got on well as roommates.

He usually falls asleep quicker than me and doesn't seem to mind me watching a movie in the other bed as he dozes, although I use earphones and turn the screen away just in case the light bothers him.

I wake up about 7.30 while he gets up around 8.0, so we're usually first and second down to breakfast.

It's nice to just have that little bit of space today and not have to worry about leaving your suitcase on the floor or having to tiptoe to the loo in the middle of the night.

After an hour and a half training this morning - where we were lucky to avoid a huge rain storm, I moved my bed around to see the sea as I rested my legs before lunch.

Some of the guys had their partners and kids visit them today so they ate lunch with them instead of the team, which is always nice.

My agent Andrew McQuaid came to visit me this afternoon for a quick coffee. He manages three of the top 10 riders here at the moment so he's pretty busy this week and we had a chat about how the race was going and who we thought would win.

After nine days of racing, Mitchelton-Scott seem in control with both race leader Simon Yates and second-placed Esteban Chaves looking strong. I think the only team who can take them on is Astana.

Even though Miguel Lopez has been unlucky with a couple of crashes so far, I still think he will be up there in the third week.

Defending champion Tom Dumoulin has limited his losses so far and will be looking to make the most of the individual time trial next week while Thibaut Pinot and Domenico Pozzovivo look to be in great form.

For me, the surprise so far has been stage eight winner Richard Carapaz of Movistar.

I'd never heard of the Ecuadorian until I literally bumped into him on a stage of the Vuelta last year.

With Quick-Step riding on the front, my BMC team were lined up behind them with Movistar close by when Carapaz rode up alongside me and tried to bounce me off the wheel in front. Now, Carapaz is half the size of me so he just bounced off, but I wasn't impressed.

I think he was a bit surprised when I told him in his native Spanish that if he did it again I'd break his teeth.

I forgot about the incident until the next day when his team-mate and friend of mine Imanol Erviti came up to me. "Nico, I know you weren't serious yesterday but he's absolutely s******g himself."

I went up to him after to apologise and since then we've got on pretty well and he looks like somebody who could be a big talent in the future.

Obviously when we talk about favourites here, we can't leave out Chris Froome (right).

His appearance here in the midst of a controversial anti-doping analysis for salbutamol wasn't welcomed by everyone but there hasn't been much talk about it in the peloton.

People say the controversy has affected his form but I don't think so. I just think he's been unlucky a couple of times and maybe needs to stop pedalling on wet corners.

It seems he's determined to race hard until the end and I wouldn't write him off just yet.

People obviously want to know my opinion on whether he should be racing here or not but the truth is he's not breaking any rules, whether you, me, or anyone else likes it or not.

The problem isn't what he's doing or not doing. The problem is what the rules allow him to do and at the moment he's allowed to race.

To be honest, I've got more pressing medical issues to worry about closer to home.

Last week, just days after his 18th birthday, my youngest brother Florian was diagnosed with leukaemia for the second time.

His eye had been swollen for almost a year and despite visiting numerous specialists, who at first thought it was a lymphatic issue, they couldn't find out what was wrong.

In fairness to my mum, she never gave up and finally got him to a clinic in Paris, where he's been having tests for the last few weeks.

The last time he had leukaemia it lasted two years but thankfully the cancer doesn't seem to be as bad as before and after his first treatment last week, Florian was allowed home for the weekend.

But he will be in hospital in a sterile chamber for a month from tomorrow. Before he went in he sent me a text saying that he sends me all his strength.

It's really tough to see him sick again and it puts things like cycling for a living into perspective.

This is only a bike race. If I had his strength I'd win this Giro.

Irish Independent

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