Sunday 18 March 2018

Vuelta a Espana 2017: Nicolas Roche takes risks Chris Froome not prepared to and climbs back to second

Nicolas Roche throws caution to the wind
Nicolas Roche throws caution to the wind

Tom Cary

Irishman Nicolas Roche played a canny game to claim 29 valuable seconds on the main field at La Vuelta and move back to joint second overall, just 36 seconds behind leader Chris Froome.

Roche [BMC] took risks that Froome [Team Sky] was not prepared to, attacking on the final descent in wet slippery conditions to escape from the red jersey group after Vincenzo Nibali [Bahrain-Merida] managed to open up a small gap.

Up ahead of them the stage went to Italy’s Matteo Trentin [Quick-Step Floors] who powered past José Joaquin Rojas in a two-up sprint to win the 164.8km run from Caravaca de la Cruz to Alhama de Murcia.

It was cruel on Rojas who hails from the area and desperately wanted to win on home soil.

Froome maintained his overall lead of 36 seconds to Colombian Esteban Chaves [Orica-Scott] but he will now be keeping a far more watchful eye on Roche.

The Irishman, throwing caution to the wind, went for it on the technical descent behind one of the best descenders in the peloton.

“It was a good day," Roche told Eurosport. "It wasn’t really a plan to go on the descent until I saw Vincenzo Nibali open up a small gap. But I was there with him and said, ‘Let’s go, and see what happens’.”

Froome said his main goal had been to stay upright but praised Roche’s opportunism. “I wasn’t prepared to take any risks today,” he said. “I’m in such a good position [on GC] and I knew there was a lot of road from the bottom of the climb to the finish line so I just took it easy with my teammates and kept everything together.

“We’re in a fantastic position and I wasn’t going to risk it pushing on that descent.

“I think Nico did a great ride, he seems to be in fantastic form in the Vuelta and congratulations to him.

“He’s sitting tied second now so he’s done a really good ride. It’s a very different stage tomorrow (Wednesday) with an uphill finish, a couple of climbs so we’re going to really get into the guts of the Vuelta now.”

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