By Shane Stokes in Barumini
Young Irish rider Nicolas Roche has said he is relatively content after two stages of the Giro d'Italia. The 22 year-old made his Grand Tour debut in Saturday's opening team time trial, where his Crédit Agricole squad was a good eighth out of 22 teams. The riders finished one minute and 13 seconds behind the victors Liquigas.
Roche placed 113th on yesterday's second stage in Sardinia, a tough 205-kilometre road race to Bosa. He said that he was feeling strong but lost some time on the final climb before the finish, crossing the line in a group one minute and 37 seconds behind the stage winner Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto).
"I am pleased with things so far," he said on Sunday evening. "It is great riding with the top teams and riders in a race like this. The team was good in the time trial yesterday [they were eighth] and I was feeling pretty strong there as well. I was happy with that.
"I was feeling pretty good today too, until that last climb! I pushed it too hard on the descent before the final hill, riding too hard, and then cramped on the climb as a result. But that happens. The heat may have got to me a bit, too.
"I am happy enough with things. Losing a minute today isn't the end of the Giro. There is still a long way and hopefully I will be able to pace myself well on the steadier climbs. That will be more interesting to see."
Roche has said that if he feels good, he will ride aggressively on selected stages in the race. His main goal is to finish the three week Tour, knowing that it will help his development in the pro ranks, but going clear on the attack on one or more days is also a target.