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Roche: Before I stop, I'd love to deliver at Worlds

At 33 years of age, Nicolas Roche knows all too well that he's closer to the end of his career than the start, yet that hasn't dented his dream of a major result at the World Championships.

Despite successes through the years in stage races and in the one-day arena, Roche has never truly produced in an Irish jersey at the senior level.

His best result in the Worlds road race came in 2014 when he finished just outside the top-25 but his lack of results has not been for a want of trying. As is often the case, Roche arrives at the Worlds after a long season on the road with one or two Grand Tours in his legs. Time and time again he has had little support, too, leaving him or Daniel Martin to fend for themselves in most outings.

In Bergen, however, Roche arrives with five teammates, and a burning desire to finally produce a result.

"I don't feel like I have to prove a point but I'd love to do well, just for personal satisfaction. I would love to one day deliver a big result in the Irish jersey. I won big races as a junior in the Irish jersey but that was around 15 years ago. I've never produced a major result but I'd hope to do it. I know the days are going by but I'd love to deliver at the Worlds," Roche tells Cyclingnews ahead of Sunday's race.

"Every year, whether it's Dan or me, either at the Olympics or Worlds, there's not been success. I've had plenty of placing around the 20s and 30s but that's not where we want to be. I feel like every time I've raced in an Irish jersey I've given my best but it's been slightly disappointing in a way."

In the past Roche and Martin have had to freestyle through major championships without much support. That changes in Bergen with the Irish men's team pitching up with six riders.

"I've never done a Worlds with six," says Roche.

"I think the most we've had before is four and that was in Florence. There's a whole gang of us for once and the camper van is going to feel quite small for an Irish team."

Throughout this year Roche junior has been reminded of the feats his father achieved in 1987 when the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Worlds road race were all claimed in a remarkable triple crown.

"This has been the 30th anniversary for a lot of things," he said with a smile.

"The Tour was obviously the big one to celebrate, although the Worlds is something really special. That's why I come here every year with that dream."

The Irish team, which includes Conor Dunne, Sean McKenna, Ryan Mullen, Damien Shaw, Martin and Roche, will not have extra pressure on them during Sunday's race. The Italians, Dutch and Belgians are expected to control the race, leaving nations such as Ireland with the chance to pick their moves carefully. It's a tactic and approach that should suit Roche and his teammates.

"As usual in the Worlds, anything can happen and it's always pretty open. The course is rolling and it's long. There's going to be a lot of movement but I can't just see everyone controlling for the sprint. Guys like Matteo Trentin and Elia Viviani are in top form so the Italians are going to play that card but there are lot of riders who won't want to sprint against them.

"We're not a team that can take it on and we've got no responsibilities. We can go with the flow, follow a few moves and we're not all going to wait until the end. We have to try and do something early."

Whatever the result, one thing is for certain. When Roche pulls to a stop at the end of Sunday's action he will have given his all. It's just his way.

"I've been to every race since I started cycling as if it was important. I was brought up with the mentality to race and try and do something. A lot of times it doesn't work but I've never been to races for training. I try my best, I hope that it works out and if it doesn't then I move on to the next one."

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.