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Roche closes on top ten after fifth in Ponferrada

Posted 02 September 2011


Nicolas Roche missed out on an opportunity to win stage 13 of the Vuelta á Espana but succeeded in gaining enough time to move to within 2’15” of the race lead after an active day as part of a large breakaway group.

The AG2R La Mondiale rider finished fifth in the sprint for the line as a resilient Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad) celebrated victory in the 158 kilometre stage from Sarria to Ponferrada.

Roche completed the stage having taken two bonus seconds in the last intermediate sprint and another 1’33” out of race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) who finished alongside Dan Martin (Garmin Cervelo) in the main peloton.

He was in aggressive form throughout the stage showing plenty of determination to secure a berth in the move of the day which also took him to within 22 seconds of breaking into the top ten overall.

The AG2R La Mondiale man was instrumental in helping teammate Matteo Montaguti to extend his lead in the mountains classification as the first rider over the summit of the Alto O’Pico Da Pena after 15.3 kilometres.

The Irishman subsequently succeeded in infiltrating a break of 30 riders on the descent in the company of Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) who moved to within four seconds of the race lead after taking the six bonus seconds on offer at the first intermediate sprint.

The group split en route to the next third category climb of the Alto de O’Lago with Roche riding strongly as part of the 17 riders who formed the front group.

The efforts of Nibali, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) to join that group on the ascent ensured that the peloton covered the opening 40 kilometres and two third category climbs in just one hour.

The efforts of the Astana team of third place Fredik Kessiakoff neutralised the escape soon after the summit of the second climb but Roche continued to attack on the descent where he joined a new escape group of 27 riders.

The group included some real danger men most notably Daniel Moreno (Katusha) as the best placed GC rider at 3’39”, Chris Sorensen (Saxo Bank) at 3’47” and Roche himself at 3’50”.

The group also contained Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quickstep) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) who each lay under five minutes off the race lead with Nieve pushing the break on with support from teammates Armets Turruka and Gorka Verdugo.

Roche was also fortunate to have teammate David Lelay in the group which opened a lead of three minutes over the first category Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas after 70 kilometres.

They worked well together to hold much of that lead over the next 26 kilometres to the base of the first category Puerto de Ancares where the 7.7% average gradient caused a number of the front-runners to lose ground.

Roche was impressive over the 11.8 kilometre climb and continued to maintain a presence out front as the group crested the following third category Puerto de Lumeras before settling into the 46 kilometre descent and flat run to the finish.

He had a go at picking up the six seconds time bonus at the second intermediate sprint with 27 kilometres to go but struggled to turn a high gear after opening the sprint won which was eventually by Moreno ahead of Seedldraeyers.

Roche contributed to the group’s efforts to preserve a lead of 2’46” heading into the final kilometres as Wiggins’ Team Sky were joined by Radioshack, Astana and Leopard Trek in working to protect their top ten positions.

He sustained attacks from Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek), Albassini and Marc de Maar (Quickstep) over the final five kilometres before taking up a frontal position as the leaders regrouped inside the final kilometre.

Albasini was too strong in the sprint for the line holding off Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale) for second while Moreno made the most of third and the associated time bonus.

While he will be disappointed not to have finished off the day with a win Roche has plenty of reason to be satisfied having recovered 1’35” overall. He climbs to 14th in the GC with an overall deficit of 2’15” and can now concentrate on closing the 22 seconds gap to the top ten overall.

Martin meanwhile holds 23rd as well as his deficit of 4’44” as the race heads in stage 14 which features three categorised climbs inside the final 64 kilometres including the summit finish on the hors category La Farrapona Lagos De Somiedo.


2011 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 13: Sarria – Ponferrada, 158.2 kilometres

1.  Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad  4:19:39     
2.  Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale          
3.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team          
4.  David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Geox-TMC          
5.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale          
6.  Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Leopard Trek          
7.  Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team          
8.  David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC          
9.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi          
10. Marc De Maar (AHo) Quickstep Cycling Team

5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale – same time
49. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 1 minute, 33 seconds

General classification after stage 13

1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 51:14:59     
2.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:04     
3.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07     
4.  Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:00:09     
5.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:19     
6.  Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:36     
7.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:01:04     
8.  Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Geox-TMC 0:01:27     
9.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:52     
10. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:01:53

14. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 15 seconds
23. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 4 minutes, 44 seconds   

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