Roche now aiming for stage win in Vuelta a Espana

Froome a non-starter after scan showed he had fractured bone in his right foot

Having lost any chance of a high overall finish due to the after effects of a bad crash earlier in the race and a disappointing 11th stage on Wednesday, Nicolas Roche is aiming for a possible stage win in the Vuelta a Espana.

The Irish rider rolled in just off the back of the main bunch on Thursday’s stage, crossing the line 27 seconds behind the sprint winner Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing). He had been fourth overall prior to Wednesday’s stage.

Thursday was a tough day for the team as its leader Chris Froome was a non-starter. He had fallen very early during Wednesday's leg and lost considerable time on the final climb. An MRI yesterday showed he had fractured a bone in his right foot.

In his absence the Spanish rider Mikel Nieve will be the protected general classification rider due to his eighth place overall. He is one minute 58 seconds behind the Italian Fabio Aru (Astana), who protected his overall lead when he finished in the main bunch.

Meanwhile, Sam Bennett is aiming to take his second victory in recent weeks in the Tour of Alberta in Canada. His Bora-Argon 18 team was a fine fourth in the team time-trial which kicked the race off on Wednesday. He will look to sprint opportunities on the flat stages and to follow up on the win he took in the recent Arctic Race of Norway.

Dan Martin’s shoulder injury from the Vuelta would appear to make it unlikely he will be part of the Irish team for the world road race championships. Roche and Bennett appear obvious choices for the squad.

Unfortunately Irish under-23 riders did not achieve enough qualifying points to compete in their road race, but Ryan Mullen is expected to line out in the under-23 time trial and to try to improve on his silver medal of last year.

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