Close

Premium

Paul Kimmage meets Nicolas Roche: A broken marriage, the fear of never knowing his daughter, and learning life's lessons

Personally and professionally, it has been a roller-coaster ride for Nicolas Roche, but he still whispers his dreams, in case his guardian angel is listening

Close

‘I’ve asked about the Maori tattoo on his arm. He turns around, pulls his jumper over his head and shows me his back. “Fucking hell!”’ Photo: David Conachy

‘I’ve asked about the Maori tattoo on his arm. He turns around, pulls his jumper over his head and shows me his back. “Fucking hell!”’ Photo: David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche.
Picture By David Conachy.20/12/2019

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy.20/12/2019

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture: David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture: David Conachy

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy.

Professional Cyclist Nicolas Roche. Picture By David Conachy.

/

‘I’ve asked about the Maori tattoo on his arm. He turns around, pulls his jumper over his head and shows me his back. “Fucking hell!”’ Photo: David Conachy

At 5.0 last Sunday evening, Nicolas Roche closed the door of his apartment, descended three flights of stairs and went for a stroll around the deserted streets. He had spent the afternoon - his third Sunday of lockdown in Monaco - racing on a stationary bike in his living room against 12 of the best cyclists in Europe.

The virtual Tour of Flanders had simulated the final three climbs of the famous Belgian classic and gone out live on Eurosport. Roche had raced flat out (average H/R 177) for almost an hour and finished third behind the Olympic champion, Greg Van Avermaet.

He had showered and changed, but his adrenaline was still pumping and a thin layer of sweat was shiny on his brow. He reached into his pocket and scanned his phone. His sponsor, Sunweb, were happy with his performance but needed a message for the team website. He thought about it for a moment, stared into his phone and pressed record.