By Shane Stokes
Young Irish professional Nicolas Roche had an unexpected spill while out training near his Antibes home on Tuesday, hitting the deck when part of his carbon seat post snapped. Fortunately the Cofidis rider was unhurt in the accident.
"My seat post broke," he told Cyclingnews. "I landed on my arse and hit my wrist. I am a bit sore this afternoon, but luckily no real damage was done. I was sitting pretty far back when the clamp snapped at the place where the saddle is held in place. I went flying, but as I was going through the city I wasn't traveling very fast. Luckily there wasn't a car behind me."
The 21 year old has been gradually increasing his training in preparation for the 2006 season, his second as a professional. "A couple of weeks back I went off to Spain for a week to my dad's training camp in Mallorca and did a few four-hour spins there. Since then, I have been swimming a lot, getting into the pool three times a week, and also getting out on the bike four times a week. I haven't done anything very hard yet, but the longer spins will start soon."
Roche will join the rest of the Cofidis team at their first training camp in Amiens next week. There much of the pre-season paperwork and formalities will be completed. "We actually do very little training on the bikes there - we mainly stay inside and discuss the season just past and the one ahead. It's more of a get-together, where we do all the paperwork, get all the pictures taken, and try the new bikes out. We will also get fitted for the new team clothing there."
As the son of a former Tour de France winner, there is considerable interest in how Roche will fare as a professional. He took some decent results in 2005, placing fourth in the Tour du Vendée and sixth in the Tour du Finistère, but feels it will be several years before he knows of his true capacities as a rider.
"I hope I can do a lot in my career, but I will take it one year at a time," he states. "For the moment, I am still young enough that I don't really know what level I can achieve. As long as I am still growing and becoming mature physically, I can't really say when I am going to stop getting better. When I am fully grown at 25 or 26, then I can look at it and know that if I train better or eat better I can reach a certain level. They are the factors that will count then. But as long as I am not fully finished developing, it is hard for me to approximate what kind of level I can reach.
"That said, I hope that I can get to a level which is sufficient enough for me to be winning some big races. For the moment, I don't put that pressure on myself. I just do my job, try to be a good team-mate and try and do as well as I can in terms of gaining experience, getting into the front group and being in the right position. Next year, I really hope I can get a win and I will do everything for that. This year I was close enough a couple of times so now I really want to concentrate on getting a victory. Riding a Grand Tour is also a goal, most likely the Giro or the Vuelta. I would like to try to get into a break on one of the stages, to concentrate on one or two of those and try to get up there. That will be a target."