Mixed feelings for Roche at Tour of Britain

Tinkoff-Saxo rider disappointed to miss stage victory

There must have been a moment when Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) thought that victory on the queen stage of the Tour of Britain was all but his. However, he was left looking for the silver lining when Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) dropped him with just over a kilometre to the top of the final climb. Despite missing out, the Irishman held on to take third and move up in the general classification.

“I’m pleased with the position,” Roche said just after the finish line. “It isn’t a bad result at all, but obviously when you’re in the position when you can win then you think ‘oh that could have been a nice one to almost finish the season.’ It’s September, it’s almost the last month of racing and it would have been cool. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the place today.”

Roche attacked the group with two kilometres remaining, chasing down Zardini, who had gone 500 metres earlier. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider looked the stronger of the two, when he briefly dropped the Italian and set off alone towards the line. His party was spoiled when Zardini came back at him, and Roche had to ensure he didn’t lose time on the chasers behind.

“When I attacked him, I thought that he was on the limit. Obviously he wasn’t, and then he sat on and attacked me with about a kilometre and a half to go,” Roche explained. “When I went I was pretty confident. I knew that the last kilometre was a bit of a drag and that actually disadvantaged me, because I made the biggest gap on the harder bit. I knew that when it got flatter the group behind me could actually work together and I would lose time”

For now, Roche sits third in the general classification, 17 seconds behind Zardini, but the fat lady has yet to get out her hymn sheet on the general classification battle. “I think it’s all going to get mixed up again on Sunday,” said Roche.

“I have to try to pull off a great TT on Sunday. There are a lot of tough opponents like Wiggo [Bradley Wiggins], [Sylvain] Chavanel and [Alex] Dowsett. It’s going to be a tough one.”

While the focus is on the time trial to decide the overall winner, Roche thinks that the stages in between pose an equally tough challenge that could see any of the main contenders lose valuable time. “There are a few tricky stages similar to yesterday, so I have to be extra careful then. You can easily lose five or six seconds on a descent like yesterday.”

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