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Roche happy with team move

Wolf and cub...

Wolf and cub... (Image credit: Shane Stokes)

By Shane Stokes

Following what was an encouraging second season as a professional, up and coming Irish rider Nicolas Roche has said that his initial impressions of his new team have been positive. The 22 year-old is moving from Cofidis to Crédit Agricole and will compete with the ProTour squad in 2007 and 2008.

"I’ve had a good first impression," he said. "They look to be well organised in the way they do things. For example, I already know that I will start my racing programme in the Tour Down Under next season, and before then will get most of my stuff (clothing and bikes) in the first week of December."

Roche is the son of the 1987 Tour de France, Tour of Italy and world championship winner Stephen Roche and has made strong progress over the past few seasons. This year was his second in the pro ranks and he posted a number of good performances, including a fine stage win and tenth overall in the Tour de l’Avenir, fourth on a stage and overall in Paris-Corrèze and fourth again in the Irish road race championships.

The Tour de l’Avenir result was particularly notable as the race is seen as a predictor of the riders who will be making an impression in events such as the Tour de France in future years.

Roche has been staying in shape during the off-season and is already doing bike-specific training. "I started back training four weeks ago, and wasn’t doing much riding then, just two to three times a week for two hours. I was mostly doing running and swimming, but have now started riding more often since, doing two to three hours five times a week.

"The first training camp runs from the 11th until the 15th of December in Paris. We will then go to Bordeaux for the team medical and fitness test."

Before then, Roche will be one of several Irish professionals who will head to Belgium towards end of this month for a trial on the velodrome in Gent. Cycling Ireland’s performance director Frank Campbell has arranged for a tryout in order to examine the feasibility of some of the country’s road riders doing some track racing in the future.

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