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Jens Voigt's final pro bike – complete with 'shut up legs' mantra
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Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Ag2R La Mondiale) put in a good performance on stage 16.
Irishman finding some form in final days of the race
Nicolas Roche was finally satisfied with his Vuelta a España after finishing with the GC contenders at the end of the tough stage to Bilbao on Friday. He was also in the break of the day on Saturday to Vitoria and seems to have found some continuity and form after suffering earlier in the Vuelta.
"I think after three weeks I can be satisfied with about 15th overall on GC but when I was expected a top ten, I can't say it's great," Roche said, reflecting on his Vuelta in a video interview with Cyclingnews.
"It's been much tougher than I expected and I was hoping to be in better shape. There were various things: the course has not been quite as suited to my style of climbing, I'm not in the same form and the other riders are strong. It it’s a combination of those things that has meant I wasn't able to perform the way I wanted to."
Roche is currently 17th overall, 10:31 behind race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC). Despite his disappointment, he could find some positive aspects to his three weeks in Spain. He intends to return in 2012, with his season again built around the Tour de France and the Vuelta.
"There were some good aspects too: there were the two really hard finishes where I got seventh and eighth, then two top fives. I've been competitive and enjoyed some days but there were other days like Angliru, where I was out of the rhythm," he said.
"I enjoy riding the Vuelta. The Tour is the Tour, but the Vuelta is one of my favourite races. I came here with a lot of motivation and so I think I'll ride two grand tours next year too."
Worlds, Beijing, Lombardy and a book launch
Despite having two grand tours in his legs, Roche intends to race on into October. He is also keen to use his racing as a way of promoting his new book.
"I've got the Worlds, the Tour of Beijing and Lombardy, so I've still a big month to go," he said.
"I'm feeling ok. Obviously some mornings I wake up and wish it was the end of the season and I could turn the page on this season an prepare for 2012. On the other hand I'm not physically tired and so why not give it a chance in Lombardy. I've got a book coming out in September and so being on the bike keeps interest going for it. Both purpose are good."
Roche's book is called "Inside the Peloton: My Life as a Professional Cyclist" but he pointed out that it's not an autobiography.
"I'm not a world champion or 50 years old. It's also not the diaries I do for the newspaper. There are some references to them but it's more about me growing up in Ireland and France and sharing a bit of my background and from the cycling world."