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Speaking in advance of Sunday’s opening stage of the Tour of Britain, Nicolas Roche made clear that he has high ambitions for the event.
The Tinkoff Saxo rider is leading the team in the event and finished in the main bunch on day one, a circuit race in Liverpool won by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).
“Ideally I would like to go for the general classification,” said Roche, laying out his goal. “Looking at it over the last few years, some years it has been controlled, some years it has been a breakaway [that succeeded].
“With a six man team it is going to be difficult. But hopefully the race will be controlled and I will have a good shot for GC.”
Roche normally rides the Vuelta a España at this time of year but had a chance of programme this season. He rode the Giro d’Italia and then won the Route du Sud, the first general classification victory of his pro career. He went on to contest the Tour de France, helping Alberto Contador early on and then riding for Rafal Majka and Michael Rogers en route to their stage wins and other solid performances.
Roche’s autumn programme included participation in last weekend’s GP Ouest France in Plouay, where he was one of the most aggressive riders in the finale but was unable to break the elastic.
“I kept the pressure on and everything after the Tour,” he said, speaking about his form. “Hopefully I’m in good shape for the Tour of Britain. I have been looking forward to it.
“I did Hamburg and Plouay to get a bit of speed and kilometres back in, doing efforts, hoping that the Tour of Britain would be nice to finish it off before the worlds.
“I felt good in Plouay. Unfortunately it was the next move which succeeded. I looked at the video on YouTube afterwards with a friend. You can see things very different when you look at it after the race. The legs were good, I just have to race that little bit better. Maybe it wasn’t the right time when I went. The right move went just after that. But I was happy to be in good condition and give it a try.”
Roche is widely anticipated to be moving away from Tinkoff Saxo for 2015, with his two year spot with the team thought to be coming to an end. He is tipped to be moving to Team Sky, although there has been no confirmation of that thus far.
The Irishman wouldn’t be drawn on where he will be riding next season, but did confirm that a deal has been done with an as-yet unnamed team and would likely be announced in the near future. “I hope it will be soon,” he said, “because it has been taking forever!
“It is finalised all right. I think it will be good. I think it is the next step.”