Roche aiming for top ten finish in Tour de Suisse


CYCLINGNICOLAS ROCHE is ready to dig deep and battle in today’s 34 kilometre time trial at the Tour de Suisse, doing his utmost to protect his chances of taking a top ten overall in the prestigious pre-Tour de France event.

The Ag2r La Mondiale leader has shown he is heading back into very strong form by sitting fifth overall for much of the race. He moved into that position last Sunday when he finished sixth on the mountain stage to Verbier, with that result plus his 25th in the previous day’s opening time trial putting him to the fore.

Since then, Roche and his team have protected his strong position in the race. He finished yesterday’s stage three seconds back, rolling in as part of the main bunch behind the day’s winner Peter Sagan (Liqugias Cannondale). The Slovakian sprinted to a staggering fourth stage win in six days.

Roche said that he briefly considered scrapping it out for a high placing, but was not close enough to the front and eased back.

Today’s time trial will be the biggest test for him and, in an event where he has traditionally not shown his usual strength, he knows that his final general classification position will depend on what he can do.

“I really want to be in the top ten on Sunday,” he said, referring to the end of the race in two days’ time. “I do think that tomorrow with the TT, it is not an issue if I am out of the top ten on the day . . . in fact, I think that’s definitely possible I could slip back a bit. But I’ll aim to move up again in the mountains.

The most important thing is that he’s feeling good after a few quiet months. “It’s great to be going well again. The best thing is I know I am not at the top of my form – there’s more to come.”

If so, that bodes well for the Tour, where he will likely lead the Ag2r La Mondiale team.

Roche is expected to get final confirmation soon of the line-up for the Olympic road race. He was one of three riders selected last week, but he, Dan Martin (Garmin Barracuda) and David McCann (RTS Racing) before Irish road race and time trial champion Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma Quick Step) appealed.

A final decision is yet to be announced, but could come today.

Today: Criterium championships postponed until Friday June 29th.

Saturday: Galway criterium, first raced at 6.45; Bobby Crilly Memorial, starts 11 am Sprocket Rocket Festival, starts 11am at Punchestown racecourse; Sliabh Luchra TT, Currow, starts 7.45; Saturday to Sunday: Paddy Flanagan 2 day, Kildare. First event at 1 pm.

Sunday: Leahy Cup race, Ballymore, Cobh, first race 11.40am; Donamon GP, Castlecoote Village, noon; Noel Teggart memorial, Banbridge, starts noon.