After two seasons at Tinkoff-Saxo, Nicolas Roche has moved to pastures new at Team Sky and the Irish rider is looking to cement his position as one of Chris Froome’s leading lieutenants.
Roche is currently training with his new temmates in Mallorca, Spain, where he has slotted into the team’s Grand Tour squad. Although race programmes have yet to be finalised and announced, it’s expected that the 30-year-old Irishman will race two three-week races next season.
“All I can say now is that I’ll start with Ruta del Sol but after that the schedule isn’t 100 per cent finalised. Hopefully I can do the double with two Grand Tours in one season, like I did with the Giro d’Italia and Tour this year,” Roche told Cyclingnews.
Team Sky have reinforced the nucleus of their Grand Tour squad this winter with Roche joining Tour de France sensation Leopold Konig and Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Wouter Poels.
This year the team targeted the overall in the Giro and the Tour. However their Giro plans fell apart with illness and injury ruling out Richie Porte, while at the Tour Froome crashed out in the first week. The 2013 Tour winner rescued his season with second overall at the Vuelta a España in September but has put the Tour top of his Christmas list ahead of the new season.
Roche has spent the last two seasons in the services of Froome’s closest rival and Vuelta winner, Alberto Contador.
“I feel like I can be a bit of a multi-tasker on the team and that’s a bit similar to the role I’ve had in the last couple of years. It means that I can take responsibility sometimes but that most of the time I can be in support for Chris Froome for most of the year,” he said.
At 30 Roche is one of the elder statesmen at Team Sky with over a dozen Grand Tour starts under his belt and two top ten finishes in the Vuelta.
“It feels silly saying this because I’m not old but I’m now one of the most experienced riders on the team. It’s quite a young squad with guys between 25 and 30 and I’m on the last year of that so I bring that added experience.”
That experience has helped him settle into the fourth major move of his career.
“I knew before coming here that this was a team that pushed and looked into every detail and that they would have everything planned and discussed. This is the first camp I’ve had with the team so far and it’s gone really well. I’m changing a lot it terms of bike, shoes and things like that and we’ve been working on that and there are a few more days to go.”