Friday 19 January 2018

Nicolas Roche: 'Giving wedding advice is a nice break from racing'

Nicolas Roche with team-mate Philip Deignan during yesterday's training ride
Nicolas Roche with team-mate Philip Deignan during yesterday's training ride

Nicolas Roche

Monday May 16, Rest Day: Tuscany

The good thing about rest days is the fact that you usually get to stay in the same hotel for two nights running, which can be either or a blessing or a curse depending on the standard of your accommodation on the day in question.

Thankfully we've had a nice hotel for the past two days, so it makes it much easier to relax and take it easy today.

Last night my wife Debbie drove the four hours down from Monaco with Philip Deignan's fianceé Lizzie Armitstead and it was great to be able to have dinner with them in the hotel and talk about something other than cycling.

Sometimes, when you're away on a bike race, you're just living in this little bubble and don't have much time to find out what's going on in the real world or hang around with friends and family.

Although Lizzie is the world road race champion and we did talk a little bit about cycling, it was nice to be able to spend some of last night talking about Philip and Lizzie's upcoming wedding.

Debbie and I compared notes with our recent wedding and to be able to give advice on things that had nothing to do with cycling was refreshing and took my head out of the race for a while.

Although most of the team's wives, girlfriends and even kids had come to visit us last night, it was business as usual this morning and we all headed out on a team training ride after a later than usual breakfast.

Because our team leader Mikel Landa is lying eighth overall at the moment and is one of the favourites for overall victory here, he had a press conference at 10.0, so we waited for him before riding off into the Tuscan countryside an hour later.

On the spin, we were joined by our team boss Dave Brailsford, David Lopez' brother Jorge, who works in the kitchen truck for the team, and our directeur sportif Dario Cioni.

A former pro, who now spends his time behind the wheel of the team car, Dario only lives three kilometres from the hotel, so after almost two hours of rolling along and chatting, Dario brought us into his local cafe for an end of spin cappuccino.

Olive oil

Dario also grows olives on his land and produces his own olive oil, under the Il Poggio Degli Ulivi label and it's even used by some of the teams in the pro peloton, including Sky.

He also produces his own Chianti, but obviously we won't be downing much of that with two weeks of racing still ahead of us.

After a quick shower, we met the girls again for a nice lazy lunch in the hotel restaurant, before heading back up to the rooms for an hour's siesta.

Although it would have been nice to be able to stroll around the local shops or go for a walk in the sun, the old cycling adage of 'never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down' was brought into play.

It's not called a rest day for nothing.

Tomorrow we have one of the hardest stages on the race, with a crocodile-teeth stage profile leading us to the second summit finish of this Giro.

At almost 220km long, it's going to be a big test for everyone and after a rest day anything can happen. You never really know how you've recovered until the racing begins.

On the last two mountain stages, I thought I had more in my legs than I actually had, but hopefully tomorrow I will be able to help Mikel on that really tough first category climb towards the end of the stage.

Because of all the transfers on this Giro, I haven't had time to watch much TV since we left Holland over a week ago but after reading about the Millennium Falcon being built in Donegal last weekend and how well Skellig Michael looked on the big screen, I plan on watching the latest Star Wars movie for the rest of the evening.

Hopefully the force will be with me tomorrow when we start racing again.

Irish Independent

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