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Roche cements 7th in Vuelta GC

Posted 18 September 2010


Nicolas Roche reaffirmed his status among a new generation of Grand Tour contenders when he produced a magnificent performance on the Bola de Mundo to cement his seventh place in the Vuelta á Espana GC.

Roche finished the stage just 42 seconds behind winner Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) who failed to dislodge Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) after a spectacular showdown on the viciously steep climb to the finish.

The AG2R La Mondiale rider did a remarkable job to see off the threat to his overall position from Tom Danielson (Garmin Transitions) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) and to finish within seconds of his biggest rivals for the overall classification.

The stage ran to script when the peloton pulled back the remnants of an early 17 man break just nine kilometres from the summit of the climb which made a memorable Vuelta debut.

The stalemate between the favourites was broken when Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) launched at attack with 4.6 kilometres to go prompting an immediate response from Mosquera who started the day second in the GC just 50 seconds behind Nibali.

The Spaniard towed the front group of twenty riders including Roche into contact within metres and gradually turned up the heat to pull clear with just 3.6 kilometres remaining.

The move left Nibali with no option but to close the gap as the injection in pace started to split the chase group. He made the junction within 300 metres only to discover that Mosquera was far from done.

 

The Xacobeo Galicia rider attacked again as the race crept inside the final three kilometres while Roche found his rhythm in the company of the Schleck, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and third placed Peter Velits (HTC Columbia).

Xavier Tondo’s (Cervelo Test Team) absence put Roche in a position to move up to sixth in the GC as Nibali chased between the quartet and Mosquera who held a narrow 14 seconds lead over the Italian with two kilometres remaining.

Roche’s gritty performance when the gradient pitched to 20% per cent underlined the new level to which he has risen in the sport and he persisted to threaten Schleck’s overall position right into the final kilometres.

Nibali looked to be in trouble at this point but displayed remarkable resilience to stay within sight of Mosquera and to close the 18 second gap to him over the final 800 metres to the finishing line.

Tondo also recovered towards the end of the climb to regain contact with the Roche group before the final push for the line split the group with Velits being the one to lose the most ground.

Rodriguez took third just 23 seconds behind Mosquera and Nibali. Schleck followed within 12 seconds while Tondo held off Roche by 3 seconds to take fifth.

Tomorrow’s final stage is highly unlikely to change the overall standings as the riders complete an 85 kilometre procession from San Sebastian de los Reyes to Madrid with Roche recording his best ever placing in a Grand Tour.

Results:

2010 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 20 San Martin de Valdeiglesias – Bola del Mundo, 172 kilometres

1. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 4 hours, 45 minutes, 28 seconds
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:01
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:23
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:35
5. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:39
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:00:42
7. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:50
8. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:52
9. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux  0:00:55
10. Remy Di Gregorio (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 0:01:00

6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 42 seconds

General classification after stage 20:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 85 hours, 16 minutes, 05 seconds
2. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:41
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:03:02
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:04:20
5. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:04:43
6. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:04:52
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:05:03
8. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:06:06
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions  0:06:09
10. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:07:35

7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 5 minutes, 3 seconds

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