Irishman Nicolas Roche gave his pre-Tour de France morale a big boost on Sunday, claiming the overall win in the Route du Sud in France.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider’s victory in the three-day race is his first stage race overall win in a 10-year career. Roche set up the win by claiming Saturday’s stage, finishing with an ascent of Val Louron.
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Movistar’s Tour de France hope Alejandro Valverde was second overall at 45 seconds, with Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) in third at 49 seconds.
“It was a magnificent feeling crossing the finish line taking my very first GC win after three days of very hard racing,” said Roche.
“It was enjoyable experiencing my teammates so dedicated and determined to support me and of course, this is their victory as well. Surely, this was a confident booster before taking on Tour de France in a couple of weeks so obviously, I’m looking forward to it.”
Roche was fifth overall in the Vuelta a Espana in September last year, and won stage two. He rode in the Giro d’Italia in May, but a crash on stage six saw him lose time and he finished the race in a disappointing 30th position overall.
“The low point of the three weeks was my crash in Montecassino on stage six, where I slid along the ground at 75kph and bounced over the kerb of a roundabout,” Roche write on his blog after the Giro.
“Although it gave me an initial scare, I was super lucky not to break anything. I think mentally that day I was a bit disillusioned as I knew my GC hopes had gone.”
Roche will accompany Tinkoff-Saxo’s main general classification contender Alberto Contador at the Tour de France when it starts in Leeds, Yorkshire, on Saturday July 5.
Vuelta a Espana 2013, stage two: Nicolas Roche takes solo victory in race's first mountain-top finish; Vincenzo Nibali takes overall