Roche harbors ambitions for green

Irish champion thinks a maillot vert may be in his future

While Nicolas Roche currently sports the green jersey of Irish national champion, his experiences in the 2009 Tour de France have started him thinking about a different green jersey, the maillot vert. Competing in his debut Tour and with a top 20 finish in last year's Vuelta among his palmares, Roche thinks that he could focus on the green jersey in years to come.

"My Tour has been pretty good but yesterday I was looking at the green jersey scores and saw I was sixth, and thought, 'that's not bad'," said Roche. "I'm a long way away from Cavendish and Hushovd but in the next couple of years if I keep practicing my sprint and maybe get a bit better on the climbs perhaps I can go for the jersey. I'm not saying it's my main focus, but why does it have to be 100 percent for the sprinters?"

The Irishman, who currently sits 23rd overall and fifth in the race for green, demonstrated his keen eye for a break by joining the main escape in today's stage from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas. The AG2R La Mondiale rider was part of a 20-man escape, which included teammates Luis Arrieta and Christophe Riblon, as well as Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia-HTC).

However, with a fierce pace being set by Rabobank in the peloton, the group's lead never got above 2:45 and was brought to an end on the final climb before the finish. "I was really hoping that this was the one," said Roche who has a second and fourth place to his name in this year's race. "We had a tough climb and once again I was with some top class riders, too many of them to mention.

"Unfortunately Rabobank had different plans to us. We had three of us [AG2R La Mondiale riders] in the break and were playing for the team classification as well as the stage. People watching on television must be really enjoying what they're seeing as it's been really hard core."

Roche, who has a strong anti-doping stance and publicises this through Bike Pure, added that his aspiration for a crack at the general classification at the Tour may have to wait. "At the moment I'm not there yet so my main hope is to go for stages, get in breaks and survive as best as I can."

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