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On form Roche climbs to ninth in Tour GC

Posted 11 July 2012

Nicolas Roche has climbed one place to ninth overall at the Tour de France after maintaining his good form as the race returned to the mountains after its first rest day.

The AG2R La Mondiale team leader proved once again that he is riding at a different level in this year’s race by finishing 14th on the stage among a select group of race favourites.
The 194.5 kilometre long stage from Macon to Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine was won by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) who has also become the new leader in the mountains classification.
There was an explosive stage to the start with green jersey leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) initiating a three-man breakaway after just three kilometres of racing.
The peloton covered 50 kilometres in the first hour by which time the lead group had swelled to 25 riders with Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) the best placed 10’27” off the overall lead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
That group were six minutes up by the time they reached the base of the hors category Col du Grand Colombier which featured in the race for the first time in its 99 year history.
The 17.4 kilometre 7.1% average brut split the lead group with Voeckler Scarponi, Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma Quickstep) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) preserving a lead of 5’44” over the summit.
Roche meanwhile was riding comfortably in the chase group which was rapidly diminishing under the strain of the tempo set by the Sky team and a number of attacks from Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol).
The technical descent provided some fantastic racing as Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) made use of his descending skills to take 58 seconds out of Wiggins en route to the final climb of the third category Col de Richemond.
Roche was never under pressure as the Sky team rallied to pull back the Italian on the climb while the four breakaway leaders worked to make the best of their 3’03” lead on the 20 kilometre descent to the finish.
Veteran Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) recovered from having been shelled out of the oringal break to get back across to the four leaders with 8.6 kilometres to go.
That performance was worthy of the day’s combativity prize but it was not enough to outshine Voeckler whose exploits in winning the stage after taking the maximum mountain points on the Colombier and Richemond bore all the hallmarks of his attacking, never-say-die style of racing.
He survived attacks from Voigt and Scarponi before leaving himself to make up a lot of ground on a flying attack from Devenyns inside the closing three kilometres. He made the junction with a kilometre to go with the drama then turning to his fight to hold off the chasers.
Roche reached the finish just over 3’16” behind and moved up to ninth after the leader of the best young rider classification Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) lost 17 seconds on the Wiggins group, despite having battled to make his way back into it on the descent to the finish.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) had another difficult day. The 25 year old is now on antibiotics to help him recover from a chest infection and his condition caused him to lose 19 minutes on the stage.
Wiggins maintains a lead of 1’53” over Cadel Evans (BMC) overall while Roche will have another opportunity to improve his standing and to eat into his deficit of 5’29” on Thursday’s short but decisive 148km mountain stage from Albertville to La Toussuire – Les Sybelles.
Tour de France
Stage 10: Macon - Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, 194.5 kilometres
1.  Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 4:46:26
2.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:03
3.  Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:07
4.  Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:23
5.  Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:30
6.  Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:44
7.  Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
8.  Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
9.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
10. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:02:52
14. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 3 minutes, 16 seconds
90. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 19 minutes, 05 seconds
General classification after stage 10:
1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 43:59:02
2.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:53
3.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:07
4.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23
5.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:03:02
6.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:03:19
7.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:23
8.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:04:48
9.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:29
10. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:05:31
74. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 47 minutes, 52 seconds

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