Nicolas Roche has extended his contract with Ag2r-La Mondiale until the end of 2012. The Irishman has opted to resist the rumoured overtures of Team Sky to lengthen his stay with Vincent Lavenu’s squad, according to the French Cycling Federation.
Roche was already contracted to ride in Ag2r colours until the end of 2011 and team management moved quickly to hold him and to secure his services for another season in the wake of another impressive Tour de France performance. Roche finished a strong 15th overall, following on from the solid 22nd place of his debut Tour in 2009. He also took the Irish National Championship last season and finished 13th in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana.
The Irish rider was disappointed by teammate John Gadret’s failure to wait for him when he punctured on the Port de Bales climb on stage 15 of the Tour but Roche has nonetheless developed into a leader in his two seasons at Ag2r since arriving from Credit Agricole. He was keen to reiterate this status at the end of the Tour, making a gift of a watch to each of his teammates in thanks for their help over the course of the three weeks.
Roche revealed the gesture in his column in the Irish Independent. “To mark my first Tour as a team leader and to thank all of the riders on the team I bought the riders and my manager Vincent a Festina Tour edition watch and when we had a quiet minute on the bus after the stage, I gave them one each,” Roche explained.
“I realise that all of the guys put their personal goals to one side for three weeks to try and help me do the best I can and it was just a small gesture to show that I really appreciate all they did for me.”