Saxo-Tinkoff's newest recruit Nicolas Roche has opened his season on a promising note after finishing fifth overall at the recent Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel. It's a solid start to the year for the rider who moved to the team after four years at Ag2r La Mondiale.
Signing with the team managed and owned by Bjarne Riis at the end of 2012 may prove to be a standout moment for Roche after spending his entire carrer to date with French teams - having turned professional with Cofidis in late 2009.
A pair of top-ten placings on Stage 2 and 4 at Tour Med was enough to put the Irishman in the hunt for the overall and while he came close to stepping onto the final podium, he ultimately fell short and closed the line with eventual overall winner Thomas Lövkvist.
"Great work from team @TeamSaxoTinkoffthanks a mill' every one," said Roche on Twitter.
Roche had teammate Evgeny Petrov for company in the final kilometers but was unable to go with the winning move of Jurgen Roelandts.
"Our plan was to support Nicholas to go for the win today and Petrov did a great effort in front of the field throughout the stage," said Saxo-Tinkoff sports director Dan Frost on the team site.
With his first race of the year already ticked-off with a successful showing, the 28-year-old will now look to his next outing at Tour du Haut Var-martin. The two-day race kicks off with a 152km stage from Le Cannet des Maures to La Croix Valmer. It was at the French race in 2012 that now Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke made a name for himself, winning Stage 2 en route to the overall victory. However, the former champion and his new Sky Procycling team will not be attending the 2013 edition.
"That's the way of the game but I'm convinced that Nicho will be confident, motivated and strong in next week's Haut Var," said Frost.