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Roche 3rd in Romandie and 10th in GC

Posted 28 April 2010

Nicolas Roche came agonizingly close to winning the first stage of the Tour de Romandie today finishing third in a spectacular sprint finish which seen rising star Peter Sagan win the stage and become the new race leader.

Roche proved that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the six-day race and could have won the 176 kilometre stage from Porrentruy to Fleurier had he not been boxed in as the race barriers narrowed just 150 metres from the line.

The AG2R La Mondiale rider recovered superbly, rounding Astana’s Maxim Iglinsky before launching across the road to catch Sagan’s wheel with only 50 metres to go.

Sagan (Liquigas Doimo) however was unstoppable with his clear run to the finishing line and Roche was unfortunate that his late burst of speed ran out of road just when an extra metre could have made the difference.

Lampre’s Francesco Gavazzi pipped Roche for second but there was some consolation for the Irishman who picked up a 6 second time bonus which seen him move up to 10th in the General Classification.

The race opened up on the final climb of the second category Mont de Buttes which split the peloton with 44 kilometres to go and left Mark Cavendish (HTC Columbia) among a group of 30 riders who finished the day over four minutes down.

Milram fast man Gerald Ciolek and Garmin sprinter Robbie Hunter made the cut but failed to take advantage of Cavendish’s absence while many other teams were too depleted to be able to form lead out trains.

An early three man breakaway comprising Andrey Zeits (Astana), Chad Beyer (BMC Racing) and Thibaut Pinot (Francaise des Jeux) provided much of the days action over the 176 kilometre course which also included the category one climbs of Saulcy and Les Pontins.

The 19 year old Pinot lasted longest. He was caught and passed by Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto) with 17 kilometres to go and rejoined the peloton whose rapid descent towards the finish was not long about also bringing Bakelants  back to the fold.

Roche positioned himself perfectly as Ivan Basso did a fair share of work at the front to marshall the race for teammates Roman Kreuziger and Sagan with some assistance from the Lampre Farnese Vini team who were riding for Gavazzi.

He was well on course for converting his all round ability into a stage win until the road barriers on the right hand side of the road forced him to alter his line. Roche was lightening quick in spotting a gap and in crossing to Sagan’s wheel but the talented Slovak already had the winning edge.

Results

Tour de Romandie, Stage 1. Porrentruy – Fleurier, 176 kilometres

1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas Doimo) 4 hours 50 minutes, 21 seconds
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre Farnese Vini) same time
3. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) same time

General Classification after Stage 1:

1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas Doimo) 4 hours, 55 minutes, 29 seconds
2. Marco Pinotti (HTC Colubmia) at 9 seconds
3. Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) at 12 seconds

10. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) at 16 seconds 

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