Nicolas Roche has said that he will give his full support to his cousin Dan Martin in Sunday's elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships. Roche says that he is not in his best form and believes that Martin, who became a father for the first time last week, provides the Irish with their best shot at success.
Martin and Roche will be joined by Connor Dunne and Ryan Mullen in Ireland's four-man line-up.
"I haven't spoken to Dan yet, but in the Vuelta, he seemed to be in good shape but recently he's, rightly so, had his mind on his twins I think now he's full of energy and recharged and I think on Sunday he's definitely our best chance," said Roche.
Like his competitors, Roche is curious to see how the challenging course will affect the race tactics. The men will complete six laps of the short circuit, which includes a climb into Igls, before the final, longer lap where they will take on the climb to Igls and then the painfully steep Höll climb. When speaking after the time trial, Roche hadn't seen the route up close and personal but he had already seen what it could do earlier in the year.
"I think it will be quite active because only a few riders in the peloton can say, 'I can attack on that climb and make a difference.' So, most of the other riders who are competitive are going to have to anticipate it if they want to have a chance. I think we'll see riders attacking early because that's the only way to win it," he explained.
"It seems that they're always trying to create something sensational to make it different. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. Do we really need a 20 per cent climb there, why not? I suppose it is quite interesting with six laps of a quite hard circuit. I was watching the stage of the Tour of the Alps and it was quite interesting to see how it blew apart and they just had a couple of laps there and it was without a proper climb. Obviously, it's going to suit one of those extremely light riders. The Worlds are quite interesting because there is always a certain amount of surprise."
Roche will be hoping for the better day in the road race than he had against the clock on Wednesday afternoon. The 34-year-old endured a tough day on the bike and eventually finished 46th over seven minutes down on the quickest time. He's not taking too much from it as an indication of where his form is ahead of the road race but added that he had not felt brilliant when he finished the Vuelta a Espana two weeks ago.
"The performance was pretty bad and the legs felt crap," was Roche's summation of his time trial on Wednesday. "I was quite run down after the Vuelta and today was a bit 'yes or no'. Last year, I finished the Vuelta really tired but I was able to over-compensate and I did a great TT and I was hoping it might work this year but I was quite empty.
"Sunday is the road race and it is a completely different sport to today so I'm not worried because today was a bad time trial. I was favoured for Sunday. I rode an OK Vuelta and I gave it a go in the breakaway but the condition is OK. I'm not in the best shape but I want to go into Sunday and give a hand to Daniel. He has a better chance than I have."
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