Ambitious Roche aims for Vuelta top five

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) has told Cyclingnews that he will aim for a top five finish at this year’s Vuelta a Espana. The race starts in a week and Roche, who has cracked the top ten before, believes he can challenge for a high overall position.

“I’d like to aim for the top five. It’s maybe ambitious but I’ve worked really hard and I’ve had the Vuelta in my mind all year. I was close to top five a couple of years ago and hopefully I can beat that. I know that it’s going to be very difficult but you have to give yourself a high aim,” he told Cyclingnews.

“The Vuelta is a race that I like and I’ve gone well there almost every year. I hope that this year I can go that bit better and get a good set of results.”

Saxo-Tinkoff unveiled their nine-man roster earlier this week with the team pointing to four potential GC cards in the form of Rafal Majka, Chris Anker Sørensen, Roman Kreuziger and Roche.

“There should be myself, Roman and Rafal and the protected riders, at least at the start of the race,” Roche told Cyclingnews before the team was announced.

Roche has had a solid but not spectacular debut season with Saxo-Tinkoff. He finished fifth in San Sebastian at the end of July but believes that his form is improving due to recent weight loss.

“I’ve lost some weight but I’m just at my normal weight,” he said.

“At the Tour I was just heavier than I’ve been in the last couple of years. I can’t really explain why, I’ve done everything the same but one year your diet works, the next it doesn’t. This year I was a bit heavier but now I’m back to around 68.5kg. I was around 2.5kg heavier at the Tour.”

“When you’ve had a long season the third week of a tour is always that bit harder because you’ve already given a lot but like I said I’m happy enough with my condition and I’m just going to take every day as it comes. As long as I’m there I’ll keep fighting.”

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