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Roche gives all to rise to 5th in Vuelta GC

Posted 11 September 2010

Nicolas Roche has moved to 5th in the Vuelta á Espana GC after an incredible performance on the Pena Cabarga where he finished just 34 seconds behind stage 14 winner Joaquin Rodriguez.

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) finished fifth on the climb where Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) moved into the race lead following a spectacular high speed crash which put overnight leader Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) out of the race.

Roche was seriously lucky to avoid the spill which occurred as the teams moved to position their leaders just 700 metres out from the start of the 6 kilometre ascent to the finish.

The bunch was travelling at close to 60 kilometres per hour at the time as it closed in on breakaway riders Niki Terpstra (Milram) and David Millar (Garmin Transitions) who held a lead of 2’11”.

The duo had shed Millar’s teammate David Zabriskie just 14 kilometres earlier as the Katusha team of Rodriguez carved into its lead which had stood at almost 13 minutes over the second climb of the day.

The breakaway riders’ work over three categorised climbs took its toll on the final ascent with Millar being the first to succumb over the 9% average gradient. He cracked with 3.7 kilometre to go while Terpstra’s resilience seen him forge ahead with a narrow 10 second lead.

The rapid pace tapped out by Nibali’s Liquigas-Doimo teammate Roman Kreuziger ripped the chase group apart with Roche one of just ten riders to survive the explosive impact.

Such was his strength of the Irishman that he took charge at the head of the group containing Nibali, Rodriguez, Esquiel Mosquera and David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia), David Moucoutie (Confidis), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Xavier Tondo (Cervelo Test Team), Tom Danielson (Garmin Transitions) and Peter Velits (HTC Columbia) heading into the final 1.5 kilometres.

It was at this point that Nibali launched a devastating attack to which only Rodriguez could respond as the gradient increased to 14%. Rodriguez caught the Italian just outside the 1 kilometre to go kite and waited until the climb tipped 19% to attack with just 800 metres to go.

Roche hung tough as Mosquera shot off in pursuit of a tiring Nibali with 500 metres to go with the going at this point causing Garcia, Velits and Danielson to slip out the back door.

The Roche chase group with also included Mouncountie, Schleck and Tondo kept Mosquera and Nibali in sight with Roche finding the legs at the finish to see off Schleck and Tondo for fifth place.

Rodriguez’s success in winning the stage earned him a 20 second time bonus but Nibali’s determination in holding out for second, where he limited his losses to just 20 seconds, was rewarded with a 12 second time bonus which was enough to put him into the red jersey of race leader.

Nibali starts tomorrow’s 170 kilometre stage to the viciously steep Lagos de Covadonga with a slender 4 second lead over Rodriguez while Roche is well within range of challenging for the race lead at just 2’11”.

Results:

2010 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 14: Burgos – Pena Cabarga, 178 kilometres

1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 4 hours, 26 minutes, 43 seconds
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:20
3. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:22
4. David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 0:00:33
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:00:34
6. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:35
7. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:39
8. David Garcia Dapena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:43
9. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:45
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:01:29

5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 34 seconds

General classification after stage 14:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 60 hours, 55 minutes, 39 seconds
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:04
3. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:50
4. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:02:11
6. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:12
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:02:29
8. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:03:29
9. Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:03:41
10. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:03:52

5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 11 seconds

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