Team Sky’s Nicolas Roche wins Stage 18 of La Vuelta

This was his second stage win in Spain, his first this year after several near misses

Sky’s Irish cyclist Nicolas Roche sprints next to Trek’s Spanish cyclist Haimar Zubeldia to win the 18th stage of the 2015 Vuelta Espana cycling tour. Photograph: Getty Images

Sky’s Irish cyclist Nicolas Roche sprints next to Trek’s Spanish cyclist Haimar Zubeldia to win the 18th stage of the 2015 Vuelta Espana cycling tour. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Nicolas Roche secured his first stage win of this year’s La Vuelta a Espana on Thursday afternoon - edging a two-up sprint to seal Stage 18.

The Team Sky racer edged Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia in a sprint finish to claim the stage and place him in 26th in the overall standings.

Roche and Zubeldia part made up a 25-man breakaway into the final 50km of the 204km stage from Roa to Riaza, before leaving the others in their wake in a race for the line.

Roche did secure a stage win back in 2013 but this was his first of this year’s tour having finished in third twice and fourth once already in recent weeks.

Talking to Eurosport the French born cyclist said he’s been desperate for this win following so many near misses - “I’ve had a few seconds and thirds and it was that small thing in the finish and today thankfully it worked out.

“I looked to see if the shadow was coming up, and I didn’t want to put the hands up in the air until I crossed the line - and once I did I was like phew!

“La Vuelta is something - I’ve never hidden it as my favourite race - for years since I discovered it in 2008 I’ve really found that this was my terrain.

“Every year I try and come here and some years I’ve done better than others but I’ve always been quite competitive at stages. But just the way the race is, the roads and the kind of short steep summit finish kind of suits me a lot better than the very long alpine stages - and I like as well to race in the heat, and of course I just love the Spanish fans on the side of the road. They are amazing and they’ve given me a lot of support over the years.”

Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin retained the red jersey after a 15th place finish.

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