Tuesday 16 January 2018

Nicolas Roche: 'It's taken me four days to watch Jack Reacher as we turn off the lights at 11.30'

Tour de Suisse Diary Wednesday June 12: Stage 5, Buochs - Leuggern 176.4km

With live coverage of the stage finishes on tea-time Swiss TV, we don't start until around 2.30 every day which means plenty of boring mornings.

I'm sharing with Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, who is just 23 seconds off the yellow jersey. At home, we're both early birds and like to get up at 7.30. Here, we set the alarm for half eight, but most of the time we're up well before that trying to fill the time by reading car magazines, watching TV or spending time on the internet.

In the evening we like to have a bit of time on our own, and have become comfortable in our own silence.

I'm watching Jack Reacher at the moment, but with dinner not finishing until around 10.45, it's taken me four days to watch the first hour and a quarter as we switch off the lights around 11.30.

With just four small climbs on a finishing circuit coming in the last 40km today, we reckoned it would be another bunch sprint finish and planned to keep Roman out of trouble all day before trying to set up our Danish sprinter Matti Breschel for the uphill finish.

For a sprinter, Matti is one of the better climbers and approaching the main incline for the second last time, he confirmed he was feeling good. With a three-man breakaway just half a minute ahead, we agreed it would be a good idea to put pressure on his rival sprinters.

Although it was only a short climb, the goal was to at least give the heavier sprinters a bit of work to do to stay in contention, so I went to the front and rode flat out, catching the breakaways at the top.

The guys tried to get a train going for Matti on the front in the last 10km or so, while I sat behind them looking after Roman, but the headwind was so strong it was a nightmare trying to hold our position. Teams hit the front for a kilometre or so before being blown back into the middle.

Matti hit the front with about 200m to go, which, on most days, would be ideal, but today, with the uphill finish, it was a little bit too early. He fought hard, but eventually faded for fourth on the stage. Although he was happy with the way the team set him up, Matti was a bit disappointed afterwards. But that's always the way when you get a result as close as that.

You're happy to be fourth instead of fifth, but disappointed not to get third, second or the win.

Tomorrow is the last of these undulating stages before we hit big mountains again on Friday. If we can keep Roman second tomorrow, we have two very big days to try and take the yellow jersey before the final time trial on Sunday.

* Roche finished 27th on the stage to move up one place to 19th overall, while his cousin Dan Martin also climbed up one to sixth overall after a 57th placing.

Irish Independent

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