Tuesday 21 November 2017

Nicolas Roche: 'I haven't felt much satisfaction yet, but there's a few days to go'

Chris Froome crashed out last week
Chris Froome crashed out last week

Nicolas Roche

Tuesday September 8, Rest day, Burgos

After yesterday's tough mountain stage, we faced a very long drive to our rest day hotel in Burgos last night.

Having had a shower and a bite to eat on the bus, part of the journey was spent watching a movie on the big screen pulled down behind the driver's seat.

Captain Phillips helped pass the early part of the journey while a stop for diesel at around 9.0 saw us have our evening meal, which had already been prepared by the team carers, on board.

One of the good things about the team bus is that the fridge is always well stocked and there is also a coffee machine and microwave on board so some of the lads had a chicken pasta dish while I had a nice tuna salad with quinoa for dinner.

We didn't arrive at our hotel until 11.45, so it was straight to bed after such a long day.

Although breakfast wasn't scheduled until 9.30 this morning, I woke up early as usual and joined the mechanics for a chat and a coffee in the hotel at around 8.30 before they went off to work and I met up with the rest of the lads in the team's kitchen truck for breakfast.

Back in the room afterwards, I had time for a few phone calls and a few emails before training at 11.30, with our directeur sportifs Dario Cioni and 'Gabba' Rasch joining us on the bikes as we did a recon of tomorrow's time trial course, which started and finished within a few of kilometres of the hotel.

We had three cars following us on the undulating and exposed course, with a couple of photographers going up and down along the group for the hour and a half spin.

On the way back, we had a little coffee stop in one of the restaurants beside the finish line before cycling the 3km back to our hotel for lunch.

Although my fiancée Debbie is working on the Vuelta, I haven't seen much of her so far. Any time I visit her in the start village before a stage we only get a couple of minutes before somebody pulls us apart for a photo or Debbie has to do some work, so these rest days are the only time we get to spend any length of time together, and even then it's only for an hour or so.

After an hour's nap this afternoon, I went for massage at 4.0, before a visit to the physio to try and sort out the hip I landed on in my crash earlier in the race.

Afterwards, I spent a while before dinner sitting in ice boots. Like a modern version of a bag of frozen peas, the ice boots circulate ice cold water around the injury to try and reduce the inflammation of the past few days.

Having already lost 44 minutes in the overall classification, the presumption would be that there is little to be gained by me riding flat out in tomorrow's race against the clock but the reality is that we are still fighting for the team classification in this Vuelta which means that our fastest three rider's times will be very important again tomorrow.

Although our team leader Chris Froome crashed out last week, we still have a really good time triallist here in Vasil Kiryienka and I think Kiry will be one of the favourites tomorrow, even if has done a lot of hard work in the first two weeks.

His main rival will probably be Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, a time trial specialist who will be hoping to move back into the race lead on the day.

After two and a half weeks of racing though, everyone is getting tired now and it's a whole new experience for our American Vuelta virgin Ian Boswell. Riding his first Grand Tour, Boz dug pretty deep the last couple of days to try and keep us in the lead of the team classification and like the rest of us is beginning to feel the pinch now.

Mikel Nieve, who is currently 2mins 30secs behind race leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha in fifth, is our best hope of a high overall finish in this Vuelta but having ridden the time trial course today I don't think it will suit our Basque climber as much as some of the other contenders.

Mikel will have a fight to stay near the top of the classification tomorrow but after that we have a few more days in his favoured mountain terrain.

Although I've had six top 10 so far here, this Vuelta has felt a bit different to other years because I haven't been challenging for the overall classification.

For some reason I haven't felt that much satisfaction from this race yet but there are a few more days to go before the end in Madrid and if I can recover today and tomorrow, hopefully I can do something then.

La Vuelta, Eurosport/TG4 3.0

Irish Independent

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