Determined Roche prepared for crucial stage test


Cycling:Showing strong form and aggression in the finale of yesterday’s stage of Paris-Nice, Nicolas Roche heads toward today’s crucial summit finish atop the Montagne de Lure climb knowing his chances of a top result in the race will likely be determined by today’s performance.

The 1,600-metre climb is the highest summit finish in the history of the race and is certain to open major time gaps. Roche is clearly in good form and attacked the leading group yesterday in a bid to open a gap and get closer to the yellow jersey of Andrew Talansky.

While his move was reeled in, his 15th place on the stage saw him continue his rise up the general classification. He is now 15th overall, 17 seconds off yellow.

“On the final climb today, I was hoping to make up some time from yesterday as I knew the descent was tricky so a small gap could have made a difference,” he said.

“But tomorrow’s stage is really important. There are maybe 10 to 12 riders who could actually win this race because we’re quite equal in power. I think it’s the smarter rider who’s going to take the trophy.

“I know the final climb tomorrow and even though my speciality is a shorter climb, I’m looking forward to checking out my form. I’m going in one hundred per cent.”

Michael Albasini won the stage in a 37-man sprint finish while over in Italy, his Orica GreenEdge team-mate Matt Goss outsprinted some of the world’s fastest riders to take stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step) finished fifth and holds onto the race lead. Irish pro Dan Martin was also in the bunch and is now one minute back.

In other news, a bid by Cuchulainn Cycling Club to secure Capital Grant Funding for a new velodrome and BMX track stepped up a level this week when several representatives plus the new world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine met the Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring in Dublin.

The club is hoping to build either an indoor or outdoor 250 -metre track which would be situated in a hub of other sporting facilities in Dundalk.

Saturday: John Moore Memorial, 10 am Lough Moss Centre Carryduff; Rás Naomh Finian, 11 am Clonard parish hall; Para Cycling 16k TT, Ballaghaderreen GAA clubhouse, starts 1 pm. Sunday: Newbridge GP, 12.30 pm; Ras Luimni, 12.30 pm Caherconlish; Tribikes Loughrea GP, noon Gate Lodge Carrabane, Loughrea.

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