Confident Nicolas Roche on attack at Vuelta a España

Meanwhile the Irish team Aqua Blue Sport’s bus was destroyed by a fire overnight

Nicolas Roche bounced back with an aggressive showing at the Vuelta a España. Photo: Javier Lizon/Getty Images

Nicolas Roche bounced back with an aggressive showing at the Vuelta a España. Photo: Javier Lizon/Getty Images

 

One day after losing time and falling from third to 11th in the general classification, Nicolas Roche bounced back with an aggressive showing at the Vuelta a España. The Irish BMC Racing Team rider went on the attack with three-time race winner Alberto Contador, going clear of the bunch on the day’s final climb, the Puerto del Torcal.

Although Roche was unable to stay with a flying Contador, the move showed that he had lost no confidence after his tough day on Wednesday. He rolled in as part of the main group of race contenders, seven minutes 47 seconds behind the solo stage winner Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), who had been clear in the day’s big breakaway.

Roche’s group was 22 seconds behind Contador and 20 ahead of race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), who crashed twice in the final hour of racing and was unable to return to the group before the finish.

Speaking afterwards, Roche said that his move had ended up changing the pattern of the race. “It’s my fault if it turned into a GC [general classification] day,” he said. “Everybody was quite happy with the pace. I just thought, ‘why not?’. It wasn’t as hard a climb as the other days so it could have been an opportunity to grab some precious seconds.

“The idea was good when I went with Alberto [Contador] but then his pace was just a little bit too high for me on the climb and I thought it would be better to kind of ease off and not totally explode as the group behind was coming pretty fast.”

Roche remains 11th overall but has reduced his deficit slightly to Froome. He is now four minutes 25 seconds back and knows there will be opportunities ahead to try again.

Meanwhile the Irish Aqua Blue Sport team had an unwelcome distraction at the race, with its team bus being destroyed by an arsonist on Wednesday night.

“At approximately 1.20am on 31st August, 2017 the Aqua Blue Sport Team Bus was completely gutted in a cowardly arson attack,” the team said in a statement. “A mattress was placed under the rear of the vehicle and set alight. A suspect was arrested by local police near the scene and is currently in custody.”

Left without a crucial vehicle, the team was helped by the race organisers Unipublic and ASO, who supplied a 52-seat coach for its use. The damaged vehicle was insured and will be replaced, but it is unclear how long this will take.

Rás na mBan lineup

Finally, the An Post Rás na mBan lineup is taking shape, and promises to be another big battle. The Great Britain team will include Olympic team pursuit champion Elinor Barker, while the Isle of Man selection for next week’s event includes British under-23 time-trial champion Anna Christian. The race runs from September 6th-10th.

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