Wednesday 17 January 2018

Nicolas Roche: Sean Kelly might be 59, but he could still give sprinters a run for their money

Monday July 13, first rest day - Pau

Nicolas Roche with his godfather Sean Kelly in Pau yesterday
Nicolas Roche with his godfather Sean Kelly in Pau yesterday

Nicolas Roche

Although yesterday's team time trial was only 28km long and was finished after 32 minutes, we had already spent an hour on the course that morning.

We then spent half an hour warming up before the stage and then another quarter of an hour on the home trainer afterwards, making for just over two hours in the saddle.

Within minutes of crossing the finish line yesterday, our bikes were taken off us to be checked by the UCI.

With our bikes gone, we we were bustled onto a little shuttle van that took us to our Team Sky bus which was parked about 3km away from the finish.

Here, we got a quick shower, had some food and were given a packed lunch to take with us ahead of another bus trip to the airport in Lorient and a flight to the rest-day town of Pau.

As my legs usually swell up a bit when flying, I wore compression tights as I sat beside team-mate Richie Porte on the plane.

Richie perused Mike Tyson's autobiography while I continued my annual Tour habit of reading the latest book by French author Marc Levy on the 80-minute chartered flight.


When I switched my phone back on after disembarking the flight, I had loads of messages of support from friends and family back home so I tried to answer some of them on the half hour drive to the hotel. Here I had another quick shower to freshen up a bit before hopping into bed at around 10.30pm.

Having just lost the team time trial, and what would have been a dream Tour de France stage win by just over half a second, I spent a while staring at the ceiling and replaying the stage in my head in the darkness. Eventually though, I ran out of ways we could have won the stage and the stress and nervous exhaustion of the first nine days of this Tour finally caught up with me and I conked out.

I was so tired, I actually slept great and felt refreshed when I woke up at 8.45 and went down for breakfast. Afterwards, myself, Richie, Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome attended the team's rest day press conference with Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.

As leader of this Tour, most of the questions were understandably directed to Froomey and mainly centred on his opinions of his rivals at this stage of the race, but people also wanted to know if I was disappointed with my ride in the team time trial.

Obviously I was disappointed not to win the stage, as a stage at the Tour de France has been a dream of mine since turning professional, but we were less than a second off the world team time trial champions BMC and our first week has been almost perfect.

Froomey is in yellow and has taken time out of the other pre-race favourites, with a 12-second lead on American Tejay van Garderen of BMC, 1min 3secs on Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador, 1min 59secs on Movistar's Colombian climber Nairo Quintana and 2min 22secs on defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Astana

Of course we know all of this can change over the next two weeks, but it's a nice position to be in as we head into the mountains tomorrow.

Although we had no race today, we all went training after the press conference in order to keep our legs ticking over and remind our bodies that this Tour isn't over just yet.

My godfather and former world number one Sean Kelly happened to be in the hotel grounds this morning.

He might be 59 but Sean still looks like he'd give the sprinters a run for their money and we had a bit of a chat and took our own 'Tour selfie' before I set off.

The last time we did a training ride as a team, just before the Tour start in Utrecht, there was chaos as dozens of media followed us with photographers buzzing all around us on motorbikes and cars.

It was nuts.

Today they were allowed follow us for 10 minutes and after that they were gone, so it was a proper rest day, where we could just ride along and have a chat amongst ourselves.

While some of the guys did a few intervals along the way today, I felt that having gone pretty deep over the past few days I just needed to use the spin as active recovery and just rolled along having a bit of craic with the lads and enjoyed my day off.

After lunch, I spent the afternoon lying on my bed watching a movie and arranging my flights for the Meath Summer Classic in Dunshaughlin on August 8.

This year we're going to have two main spins of 100km and 50km and a family ride of 12km.

Once you have a bike and a helmet you can sign up for it on

My dad called to the hotel later and we had our usual cup of coffee and chat before I was called to go for massage before dinner.

As usual, this rest day has flown by and it's only a few hours before we'll be rolling out of Tarbes and heading to the mountains.

Rest days can play tricks on your legs and the first day back racing often sees some guys react a lot better than others.

Thankfully, tomorrow's start, although on rolling terrain, is not uphill because I think we're going to have a lot of work to do in the first part of the race. The finish comes on the Hors category climb to La-Pierre-Saint-Martin.

I've been up it on a pre-Tour recon with Froomey and it's a really tough climb, especially the first 8km.

It levels out a bit then so maybe the selection will be made at the bottom before the cat and mouse begins between the big leaders in the middle section.

It will give the first real indication as to who has recovered from a hard first week.

Tour de France, Live Eurosport 1.0/TG4 1.10/ ITV4 1.30

Irish Independent

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