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Nicolas Roche (AG2R)
Irish champion looking forward to season's end
Nicolas Roche had a good showing in the Giro del Piemonte, netting 12th place, but he is unsure what to expect in Saturday's Giro di Lombardia.
The Irishman's feeling the effects of a long season and is hoping that he can raise his game for the final race of the year, posting a decent result before taking a break.
"I have no idea how it will go," the Ag2r La Mondiale rider told Cyclingnews. "Last week I was feeling okay but I came up short in both races on the last lap [he was 68th in the GP Beghelli and 50th in the Giro dell'Emilia]. I was good on the penultimate lap but then on the last lap I ended up with nothing.
"Piemonte was good enough but apart from the last 30 kilometres, we never went full gas. It was always medium speed all day. That was okay for me. I think Lombardy is quite hard in relation to my condition, but I am going there with the morale of knowing that it is the last race of the season. I want to try to get all the way down to Como in the best condition."
An aggressive, attacking rider, Roche won the Irish road race championship in June and wore the white and green jersey with pride in his first Tour de France. He was primed for good results; his best stage finish a second in Besançon, with another three top 10 placings resulting in his sixth in the points classification and 23rd overall in Paris.
That was the high point of the year, but while his results haven't been plentiful since then, the 25-year-old plays down the suggestion that he hasn't been able to match his July form.
"I had a good month in August," he said. "I crashed in San Sebastian but [until then] I was with the front group with about 25 of us left.
"Then in Hamburg I was away in the last 15 kilometres with Gilbert, but it didn't work out. In the Tour du Poitou Charentes, I was ninth and 11th on stages. Okay, it wasn't quite the form of the Tour, but I was competitive."
A crash in the Tour of Britain complicated his goal of taking a high placing, but his most important objective of the race was to get into shape for the World Championships. Roche never got going in Mendrisio however, pulling out before the end of the elite men's race.
Compatriot Philip Deignan said afterwards that Roche did a seven-hour training spin a couple of days before the race, and may have left behind his best legs as a result. "I think it was a bit too much," said Deignan.
Roche concedes he wasn't in great form that day. "I wasn't in it at all," he admitted. "I was completely empty."
He's been racing since the Tour Down Under in January and said that he can feel the effects of that. "I can see the difference – in other years I was always going well in September, but this year is different. I had a good August, but I've not been quite as competitive as I wanted to be since then.
"I hope that Lombardy will go well, then I'll take some time off. I'll be spending a week in France and then I will get over to Ireland for two-and-a-half weeks...I'm looking forward to a break."