Nicolas Roche named in Team Sky’s Tour de France team

Irish rider determined to help team-mate Chris Froome win back crown

Team Sky’s Chris Froome is the favourite for this year’s Tour de France. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome is the favourite for this year’s Tour de France. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Wire.

 

He admits that it was a more uncertain decision than recent years, a reflection of the strength in depth of the Sky team, but Nicolas Roche has finally been confirmed as a rider on this year’s Tour de France.

In January the Irish professional moved to the British outfit after two years with Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff Saxo team and, when the Tour begins on Saturday, he will start a campaign which he hopes will end with one of his biggest ambitions being realised.

“I am super excited to be selected,” Roche said. “In the last few years I have always based my season form around the second part of the year and for me the Tour is just so important.

“I said many times in interviews that one of the big goals that I have is to be in Paris with someone in the yellow jersey. I really think it could achievable this year.”

Chris Froome won the Tour de France in 2013 and after crashing out last year, he has shown strong form this season, with two stage wins plus the overall classification victory in the big Tour warm-up event, the Critérium du Dauphiné.

It is a reflection of the team’s belief in his chances that the final selection was weighed up so carefully.

Monday’s announcement saw the strong general classification rider Richie Porte confirmed for the race. Joining the Australian are the newly crowned British champion Peter Kennaugh, fellow Britons Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, the Czech Leopold König and the Dutchman Wout Poels.

No room

Philip Deignan

It is understood that he was motivated to make the team and worked hard in recent weeks getting down to a very light climbing weight. However, despite a strong showing in the Critérium du Dauphiné, he won’t line out in the Tour.

Roche’s two years with Contador enabled him to get to know the Spaniard and it is likely that Sky will have picked his brains about the Spaniard’s training methods, plus any possible physical and mental weaknesses.

However, Roche said that while Froome and Contador were similar in some respects, most notably in their drive and attention to detail, the latter was tricky to work out.

“Alberto’s main quality is that he is unpredictable. On the climbs he can decide at any moment to attack. So it is quite hard for me to say to Chris, ‘I know Alberto, he is going to do this today,’” he explained.

“He showed it again in the Giro; one day he attacked with 50 kilometres to go and another day, when everyone thought he was going to, he didn’t.

“He is unpredictable and the way he uses the team is also unpredictable.”

Roche states he was tired from a pre-race training camp in the Critérium du Dauphiné but that he believes he is where he needs to be now.

“My aim is to be able to look back after the Tour and say I rode well on key stages, helping Chris to win. I’m really looking forward to starting the race.”

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