Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) ended a hard-fought finale of the GP Insubria in third today. He formed the winning move over the last climb with World Champion Cadel Evans and arrived in Pieve Vergonte, Italy, to fight for third place, behind winner Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d’Epargne).
“I am happy, the team had given me a lot of trust for this year,” Roche told Cycling Weekly. “I was able to ride Bessèges with not too much pressure as preparation for here and then Paris-Nice. It was the first time in my career I was told to go to a race just to get preparation.”
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Roche had team-mate Tadej Valjavec in the 11-man move that formed after the final climb, leaving 4.6 kilometres to race. With the Alpine mountains at his back and a clear sky ahead, Tadej led Roche into the sprint with 400 metres remaining.
“I went a bit early,” said Roche. “The last 50 metres were terrible to me.”
Evans finished fourth and Sky’s Italian, Morris Possoni, finished in sixth.
Team Sky was well represented in the day’s escape group of five men. South African John-Lee Augustyn went clear with Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Stefano Borchi (De Rosa-Stac Plastic), Nicolas Schnyder (Price) and Alberto Di Lorenzo (Zheroquadro) at kilometre 26, shortly after a small detour through Switzerland.
Augustyn and his four companions worked up the small climb to Varese to gain a maximum advantage of 5’45”. However, under the pressure of teams Footon and Diquigiovanni, the escape’s advantage fell to zero on the closing circuits with 25 kilometres left of the 181.9-kilometre race.
“The team was up there today and we were motivated to get results,” said Augustyn. “I got lucky and got into a nice breakaway. I felt well and tried to arrive to the finish with time to spare, but the bunch was so motivated to catch us.”
Sky, Roche and most of the Insubria riders will meet again tomorrow to compete in tomorrow’s GP Lugano.