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Roche to skip Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne

Posted 11 April 2012

Nicolas Roche has limited his participation in this year’s Ardennes classics to Liege-Bastogne-Liege having decided to focus on the four-day Giro del Trentino in preference to Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne.

The three Ardennes races have been part of Roche’s race programme for the past number of years but the AG2R La Mondiale rider has now chosen to concentrate on what he can achieve in the tough Italian stage race.

The race will provide an important battleground as he looks to hone his condition ahead of his first appearance at next month’s Tour of California to be followed by the Tour de Suisse and national road race championships en route to the Tour de France.

Roche’s bad luck at last year’s Ardennes is certain to have influenced his decision to make changes to his 2012 race programme while sticking with Liege-Bastogne-Liege as his favourite of the three one-day classics.

He finished 59th in last year’s Amstel Gold before crashing out of Fleche Wallonne with cousin Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda). The ill effects of that fall prevented him from finishing Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

In introducing the Giro de Trentino to his schedule Roche has given himself a tough assignment with three of the four stages featuring tough mountain passes and summit finishes.

The race starts next Tuesday with a 14.3 kilometre time trial from Riva del Garda to Acro with the flat course built for the specialists against the clock.

The race has attracted significant interest from the Italian riders with the first half of the 152 kilometre long stage two from Mori to Sant’Orsola Terme taking in the valley of Valsugana which will host the Italian national road race championships in June.

The racing during that stage will heat up on the second category Palu di Fersina and first category Redebus Mountain Pass before the descent to the finishing climb on the hors category Sant’Orsola Terme.

Stage three spans 167.8 kilometres and includes the final climb to Punta Brenzone with the 8.5 kilometre brut averaging 15% and tipping 20% gradient before the summit and two kilometre drop to the stage finish.

The final stage runs from Castelletto Di Brenzone to the finish on the legendary Pordio Mountain Pass. The climbing starts after 45 kilometres and doesn’t let up for the remaining 132.5 kilometres.

Roche’s AG2R La Mondiale team for the race includes Julien Berard, Guillaume Bonnafond, Hubert Dupont, John Gadret, Gregor Gazvoda, Matteo Montaguti and Mathieu Perget.

Dupont will also join him at Liege-Bastogne-Liege alongside Maxime Bouet, Mikael Cherel, Ben Gastauer, Rinaldo Nocentini, Sebastien Minard and Christophe Riblon.

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