Tour de France: Roche frustrated after launching vain bid for stage victory

Dan Martin among those contenders keeping their powder try for Friday’s time trial

Team Sunweb riders Nikias Arndt of Germany, Michael Matthews ( Australia) and Ireland’s Nicolas Roche lead the breakaway during the 12th Stage from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Nicolas Roche made a big bid for stage victory on Thursday’s 12th stage of the Tour de France, being one of the most active riders in the day’s big breakaway group and pushing the pace on the final climb of the Horquette d’Ancizan.

Those efforts however left the Irish Team Sunweb rider slightly short when the Briton Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked with Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Roche tried repeatedly to shake off the chasing group and to bridge across but was unable to do so. The Spaniard Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) was the only one able to get across to Yates and Mühlberger, while Roche finished in the chasing group racing for fourth place, one minute 28 seconds later. He was 15th on the stage.

“The team was amazing and they did a great job for me today,” he said at the finish. “We tried to control the race to make it so that the breakaway arrived at the last climb together. I gave it my all but I couldn’t follow the trio ahead, although I was still in a good position over the top of the climb.


“Near the bottom of the descent we got caught by the chasing group just before the finish. I’m of course disappointed with the result but we had a good race as a team today.”

Dan Martin was returning to the same roads where he won his first Tour de France stage in 2013. He said beforehand that he believed a breakaway would go on to take the stage win and so it proved; as for the general classification contenders, of which he is one, they had an unexpectedly quiet day, with riders clearly opting to save their strength for Friday’s time trial.

Martin’s group rolled in nine minutes 35 seconds behind stage winner Yates, with the Irishman placing 60th. He remains a fine ninth overall, two minutes and nine seconds behind the ongoing race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

He is not a specialist time trialist, but hopes to perform solidly in Friday’s 27.2 kilometre race.

“We will see how it goes,” he told the Irish Times. “The time trial in the [Tour warm-up event] Critérium du Dauphiné went pretty well. It is a bit of a different course here but we learned from the course in the Dauphiné, and hopefully I can do a good performance. There is a lot on it this year. My position [on the bike] is very, very good, my power is good.”

Time trial performances depend on rider position and power output, but also on factors like bike and equipment aerodynamics. Some of Martin’s rivals have bigger budgets and may have an advantage in the latter area.

“At the Dauphine I did a really good power output and I know my position is really aero. Obviously we are doing the best job with the package we have.”

Tour de France (WorldTour)

Stage 12, Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre: 1, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) at 4 hours 57 mins 53 secs; 2, P. Bilbao (Astana Pro Team); 3, G. Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe); 4, T. Benoot (Lotto Soudal) at 1 min 28 secs; 5, F. Felline (Trek-Segafredo); 6, M. Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) both same time

Irish: 15, N. Roche (Team Sunweb) same time; 60, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at 9 mins 35 secs

Mountain 1 - Côte De Montoulieu-Saint-Bernard, km. 62.5: 1, T. Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 1

Mountain 2 - Col De Peyresourde, km. 146: 1, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 10 pts; 2, S. Pauwels (CCC Team) 8; 3, L. Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) 6

Mountain 3 - Hourquette D'Ancizan, km. 179: 1, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 10 pts; 2, G. Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) 8; 3, P. Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) 6

Young riders: 1, Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4 hours 57 mins 53 secs; 2, T. Benoot (Lotto Soudal) at 1 min 28 secs; 3, M. Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Combativity: 1, Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott)

Teams: 1, AG2R La Mondiale, 14 hours 58 mins 3 secs; 2, Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6 mins 39 secs; 3, Mitchelton-Scott, same time

Other: 8, UAE Team Emirates, at 16 mins 14 secs; 9, Team Sunweb, same time

General classification after stage 12: 1, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 52 hours 26 mins 9 secs; 2, G. Thomas (Team Ineos) at 1 min 12 secs; 3, E. Bernal (Team Ineos) at 1 min 16 secs; 4, S. Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) at 1 min 27 secs; 5, E. Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 1 min 45 secs; 6, E. Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 1 min 46 secs

Irish: 9, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at 2 mins 9 secs; 27, N. Roche (Team Sunweb) at 9 mins 50 secs

Points classification: 1, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 277 pts; 2, S. Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 191; 3, E. Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 184

Mountains classification: 1, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 54 pts; 2, T. De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37; 3, G. Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 30

Young riders classification: 1, Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) 52 hours 27 mins 25 secs; 2, E. Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 30 secs; 3, D. Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) at 3 mins 16 secs

Teams classification: 1, Trek-Segafredo, 157 hours 27 mins 18 secs; 2, AG2R La Mondiale, at 9 mins 19 secs; 3, Movistar Team, at 10 mins 22 secs

Other: 6, UAE Team Emirates, at 30 mins 10 secs; 11, Team Sunweb, at 46 mins 25 secs

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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