By Shane Stokes
Nicolas Roche switched colours from Cofidis to Credit Agricole during the off season. The Cote d’Azur based Irish rider says he is impressed with things thus far, and has some clear goals laid out for the year. “The team is brilliant, I am pretty happy with it,” he told Cyclingnews in recent days. “I have made some good first contacts there. I am pretty motivated as a result – I have a new team, things are going well for me, we have talked about the programme for the season and everything is a very coherent.”
The 22 year-old was with Cofidis for his first two seasons as a professional and with them, he won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir in September and finished tenth overall. Does he see much of a change in setups? “They are different in their own ways. There are a couple of similarities too. It is a bit too early to judge it because I am only there officially a few days,” he explained, earlier this month.
“I have only done two two-day training camps. We haven't had a proper cycling training camp yet - it was about getting together to have meetings. I don't know all the staff yet… I have met all the riders but it was pretty brief.” In addition to that good ride in l’Avenir – where he was also seventh on the mountainous eighth stage - he fared well in several other races. These included fourth on stage one and the same finishing position overall in Paris – Corrèze, fourth in the Irish road race championships, eighth in the Polynormande and tenth in Paris – Camenbert.
For this season, he wants to continue to gain strength and experience, and has laid out some targets. “First of all I would really like to be at top form for the Tour of the Med as it is close to home and it is something I always liked to watch on TV,” he said. “So it is a race that I would like to do well in. Then hopefully I can go well in Paris-Nice and then all the French Cups in April. The Cup races are one of my goals now, this year I would like to perform well there. Of course, I will hopefully do the Giro, although I am not sure yet. But if I am on the team there I would like to perform pretty well. Of course, I am not taking about going for GC, but I would like to show that I am there and also do some good work for the team.”