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TT leaves Roche in GC dogfight

Posted 15 September 2010

Nicolas Roche is now in a real dogfight to secure a top five placing in the Vuelta á Espana having slipped to 8th overall after the Penafiel time trial which has left himself and five other top ten contenders within 19 seconds of each other.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) has returned to the race lead with a 39’ advantage over Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) but the revelation of the day was Peter Veilits (HTC Columbia) who climbed to third overall having produced an extraordinary performance to win the 46 kilometre race against the clock.

Velits started the stage with a 4’27” deficit to race leader Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and a 1’26” deficit to Roche but an astonishing performance seen him clock a time of 52’43” to take 3’29” out of the AG2R La Mondiale man and a full 6’12” out of the Spaniard.

His time was 12 seconds quicker than that set by Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and a staggering 37 seconds faster than World Time Trial Champion and favourite for the stage win Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).

Roche, who started the stage fifth overall, had a bigger pill to swallow when Tom Danielson (Garmin Transitions) and Xavier Tondo (Cervelo Test Team) pulled back respective deficits to him of 1’28” and 1’42 to join Velits in leapfrogging him in the GC.

The Irishman started the stage with high hopes of maintaining his overall position and of eating into the 45 seconds which separated him from the fourth place occupied by Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank).

He was very much on course to achieving both objectives through the 15 kilometre time check having shaved 34 seconds off the gap to the Luxembourger who was holding fourth by 11 seconds as Nibali became the virtual race leader with a 22” gap to Mosquera and a 45” lead over a struggling Rodriguez.

Nibali extended his lead over Mosquera to 32 seconds and widened the gap to Rodriguez to 2’21” at the 31 kilometre time check where the blistering finishing time set by Velits placed him fourth at 2’34” with Schleck holding 3’06” to bump Roche out of the top five on the road.

Roche tired over the final section of the course and while his finishing time of 56:12 was 26 seconds faster than Schleck both riders conceded well over three minutes to Velits whose stage win leaves him third overall just 2 minutes behind Nibali.

Rodriguez surrendered the race lead having lost a staggering 6’12” which was enough to consign him to fifth overall where his overall deficit of 3’45” to Nibali has ruled out the possibility of overall victory with just one more mountain stage to come on Saturday.

Roche has already proved that he can climb better than Velits, Tondo and Danielson who now lie ahead of him and that will provide some comfort as he assesses his prospects of overcoming the slender time gaps which could move him back up the GC before the race finishes on Sunday.

Results: 

2010 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 17: Penafiel – Penafiel, ITT, 46 kilometres

1. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:52:43
2. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:00:12
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:37
4. Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:50
5. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:01:03
6. Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:07
7. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:01:10
8. Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step 0:01:14
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:24
10. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Transitions 0:01:27

38. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 3 minutes, 29 seconds

General classification after stage 17:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 71 hours, 19 minutes, 49 seconds
2. Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:39
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:02:00
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:03:44
5. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:45
6. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team
7. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:03:55
8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:04:03
9. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:04:13
10. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:05:43  

8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 4 minutes, 3 seconds

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