Add to Google

Roche expects tough fight to defend title

Posted 25 June 2010

Reigning Irish national road race champion Nicolas Roche has cited his experience of wearing the title holder’s jersey as his primary motivation for attempting to record back-to-back wins when he lines up for the race in Sligo this Sunday.

The AG2R La Mondiale rider will start the 160 kilometre race as the man to beat but Roche admits that a win is far from certain given the improving fortunes of Irish cycling and the strength of the field.

“The jersey of national champion has been good to me and I have had a good year in it. Everyone tells me that they are able to recognise it in the peloton and it has created a lot of interest in me and in Irish cycling globally,” he told Irish Pro Cycling on his arrival in Dublin.

“I always look forward to the national road race. I am as motivated as ever and I am here to try and take the jersey back for another year and to take it to the Tour de France next week,” he said.

Roche is familiar with the 15 kilometre circuit in Sligo but is more daunted by the weather than the fact that he will start the race as marked man.

“I have always been a marked man. That’s why I did not win it before and last year I had to really fight for it. I was third on the same circuit in 2002 or 2004. It’s a difficult course and it won’t be any easier on Sunday than it was on the last occasion.

“The weather will play a big role in the race. It could be 25 degrees and have people suffering or five degrees and raining which would have me suffering,” he said.

Roche shares his cousin, Dan Martin’s assessment that the style of racing in Ireland differs greatly to that on the continent and that they will have a big challenge to adapt to that.

“I read what Dan said and he was right about the style of racing being stop-start, stop-start. I know I am an attacking rider but that style of racing kills me.

“When I race abroad in the Pro Tour the scenario is pretty much written. If you have the legs you follow, if you have not you stay behind. Here it changes every two or three kilometres,” he continued.

Roche explained that he loves racing on home ground because of the reception he receives and the genuine goodwill that exists for him to do well, especially when it comes to competing in the nationals.

“I always look forward to it. Everyone wants me to do well and to win but once you put that number on your back and hit the start line it’s competitive and the best man wins. It is becoming more competitive every year and cycling has been really developing in Ireland.

“The cycling federation and the Irish Sports Council have worked well to invest in the sport and to raise its profile and that is starting to pay off, little by little. We have some great U.23 riders coming through and I have been following the success of the Irish team and their performance in the Ras,” he added.

Roche will start the race with his future ambitions firmly fixed on the Tour de France and he travels to Rotterdam on Tuesday having been an early choice for the nine man AG2R La Mondiale team.

“I was thrilled to be selected. It is the most important race of the year. I am more nervous about this one. Before I was just saying okay I’ve ridden a Giro, the Vuelta, the worlds and Olympics it can’t be much different. Then you get there and realise it is very much different to what you thought.

“It is everything else put together and much bigger again. I feel much more excited about it this year because I know how big it is here and how many people will be following it,” he said.

The 25 year old skipped last Wednesday’s Stephen Roche Grand Prix to complete the final phase of his Tour preparation in Varese and he is satisfied that everything is on track and that the hamstring injury that forced him out of the Tour de Romandie has  healed.

“This week I was pretty tired after the Tour de Suisse. That race was very demanding and the weather conditions were not great. I backed off a bit this week but it’s all going to plan and the condition will be there.

“It’s touch wood with the injury. I didn’t feel any pain in Switzerland. I do not think about it all the time but it is always in the back of my mind. There has been no pain. It has been fine and I’m ready to go,” he remarked.

News Archive

More News HeadlinesLatest

McCann best placed in Olympic road race

David McCann was the best placed Irish rider in...

Nicolas Roche almost pulled off an incredible...

Roche drops valuable time in GC battle

Nicolas Roche’s hopes of breaking back into the...

Roche drops valuable time in GC battle

Nicolas Roche’s hopes of breaking back into the...

Martin 7th on stage as Roche closes on Tour’s top ten

Dan Martin has taken seventh place on the...

Roche 13th in Tour GC amid reports of course sabotage

Nicolas Roche remains 13th overall in the Tour de...

Roche 14th as David Millar salvages Garmin-Sharp’s Tour

Nicolas Roche finished strongly on the longest...

Roche slips as Martin comes up short in break

Nicolas Roche has dropped out of the top ten at...

On form Nicolas Roche climbs to ninth in Tour de France GC

Nicolas Roche has climbed one place to ninth...

© McClure Media and PR