Instead of battling for a top 10 place in Paris, Nicolas Roche (AG2R) had to be content with getting to the French capital and finishing the 2011 Tour de France in 26th place, 46:23 down on overall winner Cadel Evans (BMC). The AG2R leader was very unhappy with his performances but looked forward to putting the experience behind him, and recovering in time to have a successful Vuelta a Espana.
"I'm disappointed," Roche said after the final time trial in Grenoble. "There were some days during this Tour where I had a little satisfaction, but there weren't many."
The 27-year-old Irishman felt worn out by the three weeks of intense racing, in which he was often struggling to keep pace. "I'm completely finished, my condition got worse every day," he said, explaining that his fall on stage five of the Dauphiné had been a setback from which he never really recovered.
"The crash in the Dauphiné got me completely off track. I hoped that I would find my condition again in the first part of the race. The beginning was not too bad. After the first mountain stage, I was still high on GC. But then, the nightmare started and I was completely out of contention."
He tried to make up some lost time in the stages to Pinerolo and on Galibier, but couldn't save what has been his worst Tour de France altogether, considering his high objectives prior to the event. Now, Roche hopes for redemption at the Tour of Spain, which starts on August 20.
"I'd like to forget this Tour but I also have to learn from it. I rode in the gruppetto for the first time in four years. In a way, it's good to get back to basics and think everything over. Now, I'll go to the Vuelta and I hope that the Tour will have served me at least as a good preparation. I'll rest, then I'll do San Sebastian and then hopefully go for the GC in the Vuelta."