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Roche back on song at Tour de Suisse

Posted 10 June 2012

Nicolas Roche has moved to fifth overall at the Tour de Suisse after an impressive performance on the summit finish of the hors category climb to Verbier where he finished sixth behind Rui Costa (Moviestar).

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) looked confident and assured throughout the stage and rode well within himself on the 12 kilometre long finishing climb which revealed the identity of the real GC contenders.
 
Roche was clearly in good form and his decision to dispatch his AG2R La Mondiale team to the front of the peloton on the opening section of the climb weeded out a lot of contenders.
 
Race leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was the first out the back door which was more than a surprise after he had fought to collect time bonuses and points in the two preceding intermediate sprints.
 
The front group had slimmed to thirty riders before the Rabobank team of Robert Gesink added some firepower to the lead group but the Dutchman and GC contender was far from comfortable with the pace setting.
 
The decisive moment came six kilometres from the summit when a remarkably slim Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) made an attack which had all the hallmarks of silencing his critics.
 
He was 33 seconds clear by the time Roche’s teammate John Gadret split the chase group in two with what ultimately proved to be an unsuccessful bid to bridge to Schleck with four kilometres to go.
 
Gesink was unable to capitalise on the enormous efforts of his teammates and cracked just over a kilometre later while Roche continued to impress as part of a select twelve-man group.
 
That group started to splinter when Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda) had a go at getting across to a faltering Schleck inside the final two kilometres but his effort was soon neutralised by Gadret and Costa.
 
Costa pushed on as the chase group fell asunder and with less than a kilometre to go he had every incentive to catch Schleck who was clearly running on empty by that point.
 
The Portuguese rider made the junction with 250 metres to the line and quickly dispatched Schleck to pinch the stage win and to collect the ten bonus seconds for first place which put him into the race lead.
 
Roche meanwhile was riding out of his skin to limit his losses and his success in placing sixth just 16 seconds down was testament to the maturity and common sense that he applied to his tactics on the climb.
 
Costa’s stage win saw him take over the race lead by eight seconds from Schleck with Roman Kreuziger (Astana) third at 15 seconds. Roche lies fifth overall at 21 seconds and remains a big challenge for the GC.
 
Stage three should present little difficulty for the Irishman with only a category three and four climb to test the legs inside the final 25 kilometres of the 195 kilometre long stage from Martogmu to Aarberg.
 
Results:
 
Tour de Suisse
 
Stage 2: Verbania – Verbier, 218.3 kilometres
 
1.  Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 6:21:13
2.  Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:04
3.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:12
4.  Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:13
5.  Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
6.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:16
7.  Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
8.  John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9.  Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team
 
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 16 seconds
 
General classification after stage 2:
 
1.  Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 6:31:22
2.  Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08
3.  Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
4.  Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:19
5.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:21
6.  Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling
7.  Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
8.  John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
9.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:26
10. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:29
 
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 21 seconds

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