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Roche climbs to 11th as Team Sky unleash firepower

Posted 17 February 2012

Nicolas Roche has climbed to 11th in the Volta ao Algarve GC after a strong performance on the stage three summit finish where Team Sky utilised their strength in depth to spring Richie Porte to the stage win and race lead.

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) was in the thick of the action as Team Sky tore the race apart having reeled in his teammate Blel Kadri and Carlos Barredo (Rabobank) inside the final 15 kilometres.

The British based outfit set a ferocious tempo over the penultimate climb of the day with the combined efforts of Christopher Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Thomas Lofkvist reducing the lead group to 40 riders.

Race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen put his shoulder to the wheel as the race made its way onto the category two summit finish at Alto do Malhao before Wiggins stretched the group to breaking point.

The decisive move came with two kilometres to go when Tiago Machado (Radioshack-Nissan) launched an attack to which only Porte and Rui Costa (Moviestar) could respond.
Porte found another gear as the trio neared the final kilometre shedding Costa and then Machado to solo to the stage win and the race lead.

Roche persevered to finish 11th just 44 seconds behind which was sufficient to see him climb to the same position in the GC where he trails Porte by 54 seconds with two stages remaining.

Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) had a disappointing day conceding 1’22” as the next best placed Irish rider. The result though saw him improve to 30th in the GC where he is 1’39” down.

The 194.6 kilometre stage from Castro Marim to Malhao was the longest in the race and featured no less than four third category climbs before the summit finish.

Donegal man Ronan McLaughlin was part of the day’s early action when he joined an eight man break which gained a maximum advantage of 7’30” after pulling clear just 28 kilometres into the race.

McLaughlin worked well in the group, which also contained Roche’s teammate Christophe Riblon, over the 109 kilometres they were out front but rejoined the peloton after they lost ground over the first two climbs of the day.

AG2R La Mondiale continued their strategy of putting a man up the road ahead of the final climb when Kadri joined Barredo in the counter-attack but the move was snuffed out by Team Sky after 25 kilometres.

Roche had to do it all himself on the slopes of the finishing climb and the AG2R La Mondiale rider can take comfort at having come through the first big test of the season in good shape.

McLaughlin suffered after his early exploits, finishing the stage over 20 minutes down in the company of fellow Irishman Conor McConvey and An Post Sean Kelly teammates Gediminas Bagdonas and Niels Wytinck.

Belgian rider Niko Eeckhout and Joren Segers have withdrawn from the race.


Volta ao Algarve

Stage 3: Castro Marim - Malhao, 194.6 kilometers

1.  Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 4:55:11
2.  Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at 0:00:08
3.  Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team  
4.  Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:00:23
5.  Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:00:24
6.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
7.  Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 0:00:31
8.  José Mendes (Por) LA-Antarte at 0:00:35
9.  Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at0:00:40
10. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling

11. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) at 44 seconds
31. Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) at 1 minute, 22 seconds
140. Conor McConvey (An Post Sean Kelly) at 20 minutes, 05 seconds
145. Ronan McLoughlin (An Post Sean Kelly) same time
An Post Sean Kelly Team:

69. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) at 5 minutes, 29 seconds
87. Mark Christian (Gbr) at 7 minutes, 12 seconds
131. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) at 20 minutes, 05 seconds
140. Conor McConvey(Irl) at 20 minutes, 05 seconds
145. Ronan McLoughlin (Ire) m.t
146. Niels Wytinck (Bel) m.t.
Niko Eeckhout (Bel) DNF
Joren Segers (Bel) DNF

General classification after stage 3

1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 13:54:41
2. Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan at 0:00:12
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team at 0:00:14
4. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 0:00:34
5. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM  
6. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
7. José Mendes (Por) LA-Antarte at 0:00:45
8. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 0:00:48
9. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 0:00:49
10. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 0:00:50

11. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 54 seconds
30. Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare - 1 minute, 39 seconds
128. Ronan McLoughlin (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly 20 minutes, 22 seconds
143. Conor McConvey (Irl) An Post Sean Kelly at 22 minutes, 09 seconds

An Post Sean Kelly Team:

128. Ronan McLoughlin (Ire) at 20 minutes, 22 seconds
70. Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) at 5 minutes, 46 seconds
85. Mark Christian (Gbr) 7 minutes, 29 seconds
135. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) at 20 minutes, 45 seconds
146. Niels Wytinck (Bel) at 23 minutes, 29 seconds

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