Roche finishes stage 13 in main bunch to retain second overall behind Nibali

Irish professional Philip Deignan will join Team Sky on the WorldTour next year

Ireland’s Philip Deignan will ride with Team Sky next year. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland’s Philip Deignan will ride with Team Sky next year. Photograph: Inpho


Nicolas Roche yesterday finished in the main bunch on stage 13 of the Vuelta a España, crossing the line two minutes 43 seconds behind the solo winner Warren Barguil (Team Argos-Shimano).

The young Frenchman was part of a breakaway group which went clear early on and disputed the stage result.

Roche rode strongly, going clear with Joaquim Rodriguez and his Katusha team-mate when they made a move on the day’s toughest climb, the category-one Alto del Rat Penat.

Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and the other contenders were dropped, but made their way back to the trio. While it didn’t result in any overall change, it showed that Roche is attentive to possible danger.

The Irishman remains second overall, 31 seconds behind Nibali and 15 ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and Christopher Horner (RadioShack Leopard).

The riders will face a bigger challenge on today’s stage, which crosses three big mountains before finishing atop the category-one Collada de la Gallina climb. It is one of the toughest stages in this year’s race.

In other news, Irish professional Philip Deignan will join Roche and Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp) in cycling’s top ranked division, the WorldTour, next year.

The Donegal rider has signed a one-year deal with Team Sky, the squad of Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

He previously won a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2009 and finished ninth overall. He had a couple of lean years since then due to illness and injury, but returned to strong form this year with the US-based UnitedHealthcare team.

Deignan won the Tour of the Gila in May and also took top 10 finishes several other events, including the Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge.

He will also join Roche and Martin on the four-man Irish elite squad for the road race championships in September. The final place is yet to be confirmed.