Nicolas Roche may be a very proud Irishman, but his and his family's links with the Côte d'Azur are many and long-standing. A Monaco resident whose parents both have homes in nearby Antibes, Roche went into Tuesday's Tour de France team time trial knowing he would take the yellow jersey on what is effectively home ground if his Saxo-Tinkoff team won the test.
In doing so, he and Stephen Roche would have become the first father and son to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. As it turned out, it wasn't to be, at least not for now, but Roche admitted he was still pleased with his and his team's performance in the test as he recovered from the effort on the Promenade des Anglais.
"I don't think we've got any real regrets. I think everyone gave more than 100 per cent, if that's possible. We went all out for the win today, but it doesn't really make much of a difference if we end up third or fourth. All that matters is that we don't lose too much time and that we're still in contention for the big days in the Pyrenees and the Alps," he said.
He denied the prospect of the yellow jersey increased the pressure on him. "Cycling is all about dreams. Last night when I looked at the GC, I did go, 'Oh! Wow!' because I knew we had a strong team for the team time trial," he said.
"In the right circumstances, I could have got my first Tour de France win in my adopted hometown and then started the next day there with the yellow jersey. That's the beauty of cycling. I don't suppose Jan Bakelants was dreaming about the yellow jersey three days ago. He just went and got it."
As for his objectives in the days ahead, he said, "We've got to concentrate on Alberto [Contador], which has always been the plan."
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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