Roche looking for strong performance


CYCLING:Having picked up a fine fifth place overall in the Tour of the Mediterranean last week, Nicolas Roche will begin the second event of his 2013 season looking for another strong performance.

The Irish pro begins the two day Tour du Haut Var tomorrow and has said that he is motivated to try to pick up a result. “I hope to go well in Haut Var, I like Sunday’s stage,” he told The Irish Times yesterday, referring to the lumpy 207 kilometre leg starting and finishing in Draguignan.

“I had been hoping to go even better in the Tour of the Mediterranean but I’m nevertheless satisfied as it’s a good result for the start of the year and encouraging for the next few races.”

Roche’s first cousin Dan Martin is almost certain to miss out. “I have been feeling sick for a few days, I thought it was a cold initially but I’m not sure what it is. I don’t want to take any chances and so am very unlikely to do Haut Var,” he said.

He and his Garmin-Sharp team were forced to withdraw from the Tour of the Mediterranean when their bikes were stolen the night before the crucial stage to the top of Mont Faron.

Meanwhile, several other Irish riders are currently in competition. An Post Chain Reaction Cycles Sean Kelly team riders Sean Downey and Ronan McLaughlin plus Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) started the Volta ao Algarve yesterday.

Downey was clear early on but was hauled back, and all three finished in the main bunch. McLaughlin was best placed in 36th.

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