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Splits help Roche back to 7th in GC

Posted 17 September 2010

Nicolas Roche has clawed back vital seconds over his closest rivals to move up one place to seventh in the Vuelta á Espana GC even though he lost time to race leader Vincenzo Nibali on stage 19 to Toledo.

The race exploded inside the final four kilometres with the technical finish playing perfectly for Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) who sprinted to an impressive stage win.

Roche is now just 16 seconds off fourth place overall having gained six seconds on Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Xavier Tondo (Cervelo Test Team) and Tom Danielson (Garmin Transitions).

The AG2R La Mondiale rider was especially responsive to the threat of splits and time gaps from the moment that the peloton pulled back an early four-man break with just over 13 kilometres to go.

The quartet of Dominik Roels (Milram), Xavier Florencio (Cervelo Test Team), Manuel Ortega (Andalucia CajaSur) and Josep Jufre (Astana) surrendered a lead of over ten minutes having attacked after the opening climb of the Puerto de Chia.

A blistering attack from Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) stretched the peloton on the run into Toledo with Roche riding hardest to bridge the gap as the race came within the final three kilometres.

A rapid descent towards the steep final kilometre to the finish caused the peloton to fragment and the damage became much worse when Gilbert kicked for the line with 500 metres to go.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin Transitions) presented the only challenge to the Belgian whose victory revealed the excellent form that he is building ahead of next month’s World Championships in Australia.

Nibali’s Liquigas-Doimo team did another superb job to keep him in contention with the race leader taking sixth place behind Peter Velits in a group of nine riders who finished one second behind Gilbert.

Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) dislodged Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) from fourth place overall having finished just six seconds further back with Roche also gaining time by leading home the next group on the road.

He finished 16th just 9 seconds behind Gilbert with Schleck, Tondo and Danielson following a further 6 seconds back. The small deficit between the trio was enough for Roche to jump ahead of Danielson in the GC.

Roche starts tomorrow’s mountain stage to the summit finish at Bola del Mundo 4’10” behind Nibali and while Ezequiel Mosquera and Velits look strong enough to hold their top three places the Irishman will be motivated by the fact that fourth place is by no means decided.

Results:

2010 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 19:  Piedrahita – Toledo, 231 kilometres

1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5 hours, 43 minutes, 41 seconds
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:01
3. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
4. Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale
5. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
7. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step
8. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini
9. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
10. Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram – s.t.

16. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 9 seconds

General classification after stage 19:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 80 minutes, 30 minutes, 48 seconds
2. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:50
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:01:59
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:54
5. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:03:57
6.  Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:04:02
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:04:10
8. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:04:12
9. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:04:28
10. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:05:50

7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 4 minutes, 10 seconds

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