Tuesday 17 September 2019

Nicolas Roche: 'Vuelta injury has given me a chance to work on my next project'

Just over a week ago, Nicolas Roche was leader of the Vuelta but fortunes can change quickly in professional cycling. Photo: Getty Images
Just over a week ago, Nicolas Roche was leader of the Vuelta but fortunes can change quickly in professional cycling. Photo: Getty Images

Nicolas Roche

Upon leaving hospital after my 95kph crash at the Vuelta a Espana, I got back to the team hotel in Castellon late last Friday night to assess the damage.

Although initial X-rays confirmed my ribs or femur weren't broken, I hobbled to my hotel room with stitches in my forearm, red marks down my chest from landing on my bike, cuts and bruises down both sides and a very swollen right leg.

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After packing my bags and saying goodbye to my favourite race of the season after breakfast the next morning I limped into a taxi and headed for the nearest train station. A few days earlier I was wearing the leader's red jersey - now I was out of the race.

Although X-rays after the stage confirmed I hadn't broken my femur in the smash, my leg was extremely sore any time I tried to put weight on it, so through a cycling friend I booked an MRI scan in a top medical clinic in Madrid just to be sure.

I got the scan done pretty quickly but, as it was the weekend, I still had to wait until Monday for the results.

With nothing else to do, I decided to buy a few pairs of shorts and headed to the Costa del Sol to relax for a few days.

In truth, my leg was killing me and I couldn't really do anything else other than sit around all day and wait for the scan results.

When they came on Monday though, the news wasn't great.

It turns out the reason why I can't put weight on my leg is because I have a fractured patella - a broken kneecap - which was confirmed again the next day by our team doctor.

A broken kneecap can take anything up to a year to heal, but apparently mine is cracked rather than smashed so they reckon it will take around a month off the bike to repair, which unfortunately means I will miss the World Championships in Yorkshire at the end of this month and all of the end-of-season classics, but at least I should be back pedalling again before the end of the season.

Ironically, the break has given me a chance to catch up on some other stuff I've been working on and for the past few days I've been putting the final touches to a project I've been putting together for a while with my business partner.

The goal was to create an events company that specialised in cycling events - from cycling sportives to Q&A sessions, corporate rides and bespoke cycling holidays. Our first big event is our Cycling Series with Philippe Gilbert, who won Paris-Roubaix this year and Thursday's stage of the Vuelta, in Ireland on October 19 and 20.

Apart from the fact that he is one of the best one-day classic riders in the world; with four victories in the Amstel Gold Race notched up, as well as wins at the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Fleche-Wallone, Strade Bianchi and the Tour of Lombardy to his name, Philippe was an automatic choice because I know he will enjoy spending time with Irish cycling fans as much as they will enjoy spending time with him.

As the Belgian star lives near me in Monaco, we train together the odd time and, like me, he loves to have a chat and a bit of craic with people and is usually the last one to leave these type of events. I'm looking forward to showing him some of my training roads and I think Irish fans will enjoy getting to meet Philippe.

The plan is to open the weekend with a question and answer session with myself and Philippe at our gala dinner in Palmerstown House Estate on October 19, where an auction to support Crumlin Children's Hospital will also see some nice cycling memorabilia up for grabs.

On the Sunday morning we will have the Cycle Series; a leisure spin on some of my favourite roads through the Wicklow Mountains, with a choice of two distances (60km and 110km) available and people can attend either just the dinner, just the cycle, or both.

I am home in Dundrum this weekend to add a few finishing touches to the weekend but for now, to register for the events and find out more, go to www.theprojectnr.com

I'm looking forward to bringing one of the world's top professional cyclists to Ireland and I hope to see some of you there.

Irish Independent

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