AG2R Irishman an unpopular passenger on day's break
Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) finished second on stage 14 from Colmar to Besançon, landing the highest placing thus far in the Irishman's Tour de France debut. After joining the day's successful break, Roche rode the majority of the stage as a passenger acting on team orders not to work in order to defend teammate Rinaldo Nocentini's yellow jersey.
With 12 kilometres left Roche tried in vain to break clear of his breakaway companions but eventually succeeded in the final kilometre. Roche caught and passed Hayden Roulston (Cérvelo TestTeam) and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) to secure second place, 16 seconds behind stage winner Serguei Ivanov (Team Katusha).
"When I attacked on the climb with 12 kilometres to go I used up all the energy I had saved but I knew I was finishing with world-class riders so I didn't want to compete in a proper sprint," said Roche at the finish in Besançon.
"It has been all about teamwork for the last few days. It's thanks to the team and the yellow jersey that I found myself in this break. The plan was to not let a big break go and if there were more than eight riders we had to be in it."
Roche, however, was constantly harassed by some of his breakaway companions for sitting on and not working. "I can't say I had an easy life because the riders were putting a lot of pressure on me. I was called every name I can think of, in every language I can think of. I had to ignore that as much as possible. The directeur sportif said that the priority was for the yellow of Nocentini. The team has given so much energy in these last few days that we just wanted to continue this journey."
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