Nicholas Roche selected for his 10th Tour de France

Rider will be part of Team Sunweb, bringing his number of Grand Tour starts to 23

Nicolas Roche of Ireland and Team Sunweb during the 106th Tour de France last year. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Nicolas Roche of Ireland and Team Sunweb during the 106th Tour de France last year. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

 

Surpassing his podium record was always an impossibly tall order, but Nicholas Roche is now set to equal his father Stephen with his number of starts in the Tour de France – with that further extending his record for the most starts in Grand Tour history by any Irish professional rider.

Roche has been named in the eight-rider Team Sunweb for the 2020 Tour, postponed from this month, and now set to start in Nice on August 29th, finishing in Paris on September 20th.

For Roche, who turns 36 on Friday, it will be his Tour start number 10, the same as his father, who won the race outright in 1987, and also finished third in 1985.

It will also bring Roche’s number of Grand Tour starts to 23, already surpassing his father’s total of 15, and also ahead of Seán Kelly, who made 21 Grand Tour starts in all, including 14 in the Tour de France.

Roche first joined the German-based Team Sunweb in the off-season in 2018, on a one-year deal, then got an extended deal after an excellent 2019 season, where he made several strong breaks in the Tour, and went better again in the Vuelta a España, taking second on Stage 2, and leading the race before three days, before crashing out with a broken kneecap.

Completing the Team Sunweb Tour line-up will be: Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Tiesj Benoot (BEL), Cees Bol (NED), Marc Hirschi (SWI), Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED), and Jasha Sütterlin (GER).

UCI WorldTour racing is still scheduled to return on August 1st with the Strade Bianche in Italy: until then, Team Sunweb will be based at a hotel in Kühtai, a town in the Austrian Alps situated at 2,000 metres. Team Sunweb said a similar line-up would take on Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo then head to the Dauphine ahead of Tour de France, followed by the Flemish classics.

Roche is also on the long-list for a Vuelta start, which is due to take place from October 20th to November 8th, overlapping with the Giro d’Italia, which is set to run from October 3rd to October 25th.

The hotel is open exclusively for Team Sunweb, with different rider groups checking in and out at different periods throughout. To further manage risk of Covid-19, the team will operate in multiple bubbles for rider and staff groups, with no two bubbles allowed to mix during their travel, or time on the camp. In addition, all riders and staff must provide a negative Covid-19 test before travelling to the camp.

“We are pleased that the situation regarding Covid-19 is continuing to head in the right direction in Europe and we are really looking forward to the season restart getting underway next month,” said Team Sunweb head coach Rudi Kemna.

“We will work towards specific goals at each of the Grand Tours and target results in the big classics, which we will approach with a strong block of riders. The Tour de France awaits as the first of the Grand Tours on the calendar, where we will aim for stage success through sprints and offensive racing.”

Roche’s best placing in the Tour de France was 12th, in 2012, and after making his first start in 2009, he also rode 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. His father Stephen rode in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993.

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