Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) sat with a towel over his head and took bites out of a piece of watermelon as he tried to recover from his huge effort on the climb to Jebel Halfeet that decided the Abu Dhabi Tour on Saturday.
The Irishman had told Cyclingnews he would commit 100 per cent on the climb but did not know if his form was good enough for him to win. Roche showed 100 per cent commitment despite the Abu Dhabi Tour being his final race with Team Sky. Unfortunately for him, his former AG2R-La Mondiale teammate had a little more and was able to crack Roche just before the gradient eased. Kangert finished 17 seconds ahead and set himself up for overall victory.
"Yesterday I said 'I don't know how good or how bad I am but I told the team I was going to commit and not sit up and I didn't sit up," Roche said with pride.
"I thought I was going to lack that kind of acceleration that maybe Ulissi or the other climbers would have had. So, I thought that if I went early as well it would be good because I knew the second part was going to be harder. I'm quite happy it worked out quite well. Obviously it's not a win but I said to Tanel this morning that I thought that he looked like he was fit enough to win. I'm happy for him. He's a good friend of mine and we were all together in teams like in AG2R a couple of years ago. Fair play to him to get that win."
Going deep one last time for Team Sky
Roche thanked his Team Sky teammates for their commitment during the stage. They helped split the peloton in the crosswinds at one point and agreed to push on with the attack even when the wind eased. Their commitment motivated Roche to go deep on the climb and fight against his lack of true fitness for a 20-minute effort on the 11km climb.
"There were a few times this year that I went deep but this is probably up with the high ones, it's definitely one of the days when I went deep, deep, deep this year." Roche admitted, clearly still trying to recover from his effort.
"I think Tour of Britain was also one where I just completely emptied the tank, and obviously in the team time trial World Championships. I thought I was going to faint when I crossed the line that time but cycling is about suffering, we actually do it quite a lot."
Roche will move to BMC for the 2017 season, he was happy to have signed off on a high with Team Sky. He is set to finish second overall, 21 seconds down on Kangert, when the Abu Dhabi Tour finishes with a final circuit stage on Sunday.
"It's important to me finish on a high with Team Sky. I love my job, I'm passionate about my job and I wanted to finish on a good note and this is why when the team had asked me I was interested to go all the way until the end of the season, I thought yeah, why not? I didn't have many opportunities this year, I've been ill a few times, and this is one of the chances where I could kind of give it a go and finish on a good note."
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