The latest transfer merry-go-round saw the trend for former Team Sky riders and staff to move to Tinkoff-Saxo continue. But as Bobby Julich and Sean Yates were agreeing terms to join Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador in Tinkoff’s colours, the announcement of Nicolas Roche's departure for Sky after two seasons with Riis saw the first reversal of that tendency.
The 30-year-old Irishman will join his new squad at their pre-season training camp early next month, and his Tour de France-winning father, Stephen is sure that his son's move will pay dividends for both rider and team. "I think it's a brilliant move for Nicolas as he was at a crossroads in his career," Roche told Cyclingnews.
"He went to Tinkoff hoping to get a lot from working with Bjarne Riis and he certainly managed that, but I think the change in the structure of that team didn't suit Nicolas at all." Tinkoff have brought in a quartet of riders from Cannondale, notably Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso, as well as Robert Kiserlovski from Trek, which is sure to complicate selection for the grand tours that have become Roche's main focus.
"I think the move to Sky is definitely a step up and that the camaraderie at Sky will suit him," Roche continued, "as will the fact that he knows Richie Porte and Chris Froome very, very well as all of them live in Monaco. Nicolas is not a selfish rider, he's a team man both on and off the bike, and I'm sure he will fit in extremely well at Sky."
Winner of the Route du Sud this past season and fifth overall at the Vuelta a España in 2013, Roche has established himself as a domestique deluxe and is set to continue in that role at Sky. However, Roche senior believes his son still has much more to give and that the British team are best placed to exploit that given their precise focus on every aspect of performance.
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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