Irishman's son Nicolas faces "learning curve"
1987 Tour de France champion Stephen Roche has two different opinions of his two close relations who will be racing in the 100th edition of the Grand Boucle: nephew Dan Martin "is capable of anything", but his own son Nicolas Roche, who will be a super-domestique for a Tour contender for the first time faces "a very good learning curve".
Speaking to SkySports, Roche said that Martin is "capable of winning the Tour, more than capable of winning one, two, three stages, maybe."
Martin is expected to be named as a co-leader to Ryder Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky in only his second Tour de France since joining the Slipstream programme, now Garmin-Sharp, in 2008. Now 26, he has shown strong, steady progress over the past five years. Second in the Volta a Catalunya in his second WorldTour season, Martin impressed with a Tour of Poland overall victory a year later in 2010. In 2011, he finished on the podium of his first Monument in the Il Lombardia.
Martin made his debut in the Tour de France last year, and was the team's highest finisher in 35th place, and this year has the potential to progress further - especially considering his overall victory in Catalunya and a stunning win in Liège - Bastogne - Liège.
Roche sees Martin as playing a support role for Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d'Italia winner and a rider who is superior to him in the individual time trials, but said Martin could be a factor if he slips into the right breakaway.
"Dan is one of those riders who you don't want to give too much time to," Roche said. "He's the kind of rider on his day who can rise to the occasion. If he gets in a lucky break and gets five, 10 minutes up, it would be very hard to get them back.
"They will underestimate him a little bit, but at the same time, Dan's the kind of guy that even if they do give him the recognition that he deserves, he can slip away."
Things have been quite different for Roche's son Nicolas, who was team leader in the Tour for the Ag2r-La Mondiale team until switching to Saxo-Tinkoff this season. He will be riding in support of Alberto Contador, a role which will be new for the 28-year-old.
"This year he's riding for Contador, so it's going to be more difficult for him to play his own personal card," Roche said. "He's never ridden for a leader; he doesn't know what it's like to be a worker."
Nicolas Roche has frequently been in the top 20 of Grand Tours, finishing as high as seventh in the Vuelta a España in 2010, but has never managed to pull together the consistency to get a higher finish.
Roche senior said that "riding for Contador is a very good learning curve for him," adding, "If Nicolas finishes 10th overall in the Tour this year, we'll be saying, 'Deja vu, we've seen it before'.
"If Nicolas finishes 15th or 20th and wins a stage, we'll be saying, 'Nicolas has improved'," but said that a top placing is not important for him this year.
"His aim this year is he helps Contador win the Tour and a stage win for himself."
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