Nicolas Roche put himself right back in the top 15 today in Gap after an attack in one of the Tour de France’s transitional stages between the big mountains.
The classification riders enjoyed a leisurely day with the winning group more than 10 minutes up the road and two Alpine stages just completed in the last three days. Roche had planned something else, though.
“Why not?” said Roche. “Is there a rule that says we have to wait for a sprint and let [Thor] Hushovd and [Mark] Cavendish get the points?”
The Irishman of team Ag2r La Mondiale sat 17th before the stage, right behind Bradley Wiggins and 2008 race winner, Carlos Sastre. But he used the final, unclassified Rochette climb to launch ahead and jump up the standings by four places.
He attacked with 10 kilometres remaining and 1.5 kilometres to the top of the climb. He held off the others by over one minute at the finish.
“This morning I said what ever happens I want to give it a go on this climb because it wasn’t a steep climb. I lost a little bit of time on the harder climbs [in the Alps] because I can’t climb with the best. This is a way I can get as close as possible.”
Roche’s goal is a top 15 in Paris in a week and a half’s time. He faces two more transitional stages and then four high-mountain stages in the Pyrenees.
With his gains, the 26-year-old sits 13th overall and 6’23” behind leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). His next closest rival is Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), who 41 seconds ahead of Roche and 5’42” behind Schleck.
A top 15 in Paris? Why not?
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