Nicolas Roche ready to push hard for Vuelta a España selection

BMC Racing rider determined to show he’s in good form in upcoming Artic Race of Norway

Nicolas Roche has had a difficult few months with quiet performances for much of the year plus withdrawals from the Giro d'Italia and the recent Tour de Pologne.

However he remains convinced that he can finish the year strongly, and is hoping to get things moving in the upcoming Artic Race of Norway.

"I was very disappointed to pull out of Poland with stomach problems," he told The Irish Times on Thursday. "I have had two months to be ready for it."

Roche went into the race with high hopes, buoyed by good training and the feeling that he was riding strongly. However he was a non-starter on Tuesday's fourth stage and because of that, his chances of riding the Vuelta a España are less than certain.

His BMC Racing Team said that his race programme is 'quite tentative at the moment,' other than his participation in the Norwegian race. That starts on August 16th and runs for four days.

Roche believes that a strong performance there could help secure him a ride in the Spanish Grand Tour, one of cycling’s prestigious three-week events. It starts on August 25th.

“I believe I’m in the optimum condition,” he said. “I just need to race and show it. At the moment I am on the long list for the Vuelta. I must show my form in the Arctic Race. I hope can ride the Vuelta as I believe I’m ready for a top performance there.”

He’s previously shone in Spain, finishing fifth and sixth overall. He also won stages in 2013 and 2015, wearing the race leader’s jersey in the former. The race is his favourite event of the season.

His motivation and drive for a strong result is further boosted by the fact that his current deal with the BMC Racing Team is due to end in December. He is now 34 but previously said he hoped to keep racing until he was 40. Securing a good slot for 2019 is crucial.

"He has yet to agree to a new contract or team as of yet," said Jamie Barlow of the Trinity Sports Management agency on Thursday. "He always seems to come into his best form in August and September, so we hope this year is no different."

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling

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