Irishman's points will count for Saxo Bank-TInkoff Bank, not Ag2r
Nicolas Roche believes that it is unfair that his current Ag2r-La Mondiale team will accrue no benefit from the UCI points he earns in their colours this season. The Irishman will ride for Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank next year, and his haul of points will be added to his new squad’s overall tally as it seeks to retain ProTeam status into 2013.
Roche paid tribute to his Ag2r team for allowing him to compete in the Vuelta a España even though he has already confirmed that he will not ride for the team next season. Last year, Garmin opted not to select world champion Thor Hushovd for the Vuelta due to his imminent departure to BMC.
"I want to thank the team for letting me do the race even though I’m leaving at the end of the year," Roche said, according to Biciciclismo. "The current points system is a disgrace. I’m riding for Ag2r but my points won’t count for them, it’s ridiculous.
"I hope I can fight for the general classification and get a good final result in Madrid for my team."
Ag2r-La Mondiale has been active in the transfer market as it seeks to remain racing at WorldTour level in 2013. Vincent Lavenu’s team has already signed Carlos Alberto Betancur, Davide Appollonio, Steve Chainel, Yauheni Hutarovich and Samuel Dumoulin, and is expected to confirm the arrival of Domenico Pozzovivo later this week.
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank is also in need of UCI points to bolster its ProTeam application. Due to his recently-expired doping suspension, any points earned by Alberto Contador in 2012 and 2013 will not count towards Saxo Bank’s total.
The future Saxo Bank teammates Roche and Contador were both at the front end of the action on stage three of the Vuelta on Monday. Contador launched seven attacks on the final climb of the Alto de Arrate en route to fourth place on the stage, while Roche finished in a solid 11th place, six seconds behind the leaders.
"It was a great effort," he said. "I decided to stay with Igor Anton and then attack two kilometres from the finish. When they caught me, I suffered for my efforts on the final little descent to the finish."
Roche currently lies 11th overall, 52 seconds down on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).