Roche to miss the Vuelta a Espana due to bacterial pneumonia contracted at Rio Olympics
Irishman hoping to race again before riding for BMC in 2017
Team Sky have confirmed that Nicolas Roche is to miss this year's Vuelta a Espana after developing severe bacterial pneumonia while riding for Ireland at the Rio Olympics.
Team Sky's squad for this year's Vuelta a Espana, which starts with a team time trial on August 20th, will be announced next week, with Chris Froome hinting in Rio that he ride after winning the Tour de France in July. Roche won stage 18 in last year's Vuelta a Espana and wore the leader's red jersey in 2013 after winning stage 2. He went on to finish fifth overall.
Roche rode the road race in Rio alongside Dan Martin, finishing 29th in the hilly race, after dropping his chain at the foot of the last climb. He suggested via social media that he contracted the bacterial pneumonia via “a bad aircon in Rio.” After speaking with Team Sky medical staff on his return to Europe, Roche will now focus on his recovery. He hopes to race again in early September.
"Obviously it's a big disappointment. The Vuelta is a race I really enjoy and one where I have had success before,” Roche said in a statement from Team Sky.
"Riding the Vuelta was a big target for me this year and I was looking forward to being part of the team. The illness couldn't have come at a worse time, really, and after speaking to the medical staff it's pretty clear that I'm not going to be ready in time. I'll be focusing on my recovery and looking to get back racing as soon as I can."
Riding for BMC in 2017
Before travelling to Rio, Roche confirmed that he would move to BMC in 2017.
"I'm super excited because BMC Racing Team is a team that rides with a lot of the characteristics that I like. They're always up the front, riding with aggression and trying to make an exciting race. I think I'll enjoy the aggressive style of racing," Roche said in a statement.
"Looking ahead to the 2017 season, my main role will be to really support Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen in their General Classification ambitions, and hopefully I'll have a good go at the Vuelta a España."
Roche, who spent the bulk of his career at French teams, will leave Sky after two seasons - the same amount of time he spent at Tinkoff-Saxo before that. The move to BMC will mark his 13th season as a professional.
He was fifth overall at the 2013 Vuelta a España, seventh in 2010, and won a stage there last year, while his best result at the Tour de France was 12th in 2012. This year he won both the road race and the time trial at the Irish national championships and finished the Giro d'Italia, where Sky's plans were derailed by the early abandon of leader Mikel Landa.
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By Josh Croxton