Ireland’s Nicolas Roche is keeping realistic about his chances in tomorrow’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium despite a strong performance in the Tour of Catalonia.

“I would like to fight and stick around the top 30,” said the AG2R La Mondiale rider. “In my two previous tries I got dropped on La Redoute and finished seven to eight minutes down. I would be happy to get to Saint-Nicolas with the top group for once.”

Roche is reluctant to put himself down for a top 20 or top 10 performance based on how he raced in the first two Ardennes Classics. He finished 33rd at Amstel Gold Sunday and 30th at Flèche Wallonne Wednesday, less than what he hoped for after placing fifth overall at the Tour of Catalonia.

“I was hoping to go better in the first two and I was a bit disappointed. After Catalunya, I had a few days rest, which is what I thought I needed, but afterwards I have not picked it up again.

“My team wanted me to race the Tour of the Basque Country, but I felt tired and thought it would be better to relax at home and do a few one-day races in France. However, I will have to race the Basque Country next year if I want to step up here.”

Stephen, Nicolas’ dad, won the Tour de France, but never took home an Ardennes Classic victory. He came very close in 1987, though.

He had escaped with France’s Claude Criquielion on the Côte de Sart-Tilman and they rode clear to what they thought was the win. Italian Moreno Argentin recovered from behind and caught the two leaders napping in the final metres. Argentin won, Roche second.

“That race, 1987, was the black spot on his career. When we talk, it is clear to me that he really wanted to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He had the opportunity and came so close, but he messed up because of tactics that one time,” continued Nicolas.

“I am not in his situation for now, but hopefully I can get it right one of these days to be fighting with the guys.”

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