Roche alongside Tour's top men ahead of Pyrenees
Nicolas Roche, Tour de France 2010, stage 9
Ireland's Nicolas Roche starts today's Tour de France stage to Gap well-placed and ready to fight for the overall classification in the upcoming Pyrenees.
"I have been killing myself on my bike," said Roche, "because my team is playing the game right for me."
After placing 25th in Sunday's Alpine stage, doctors attended to Roche for hyperventilation. The 26-year-old bushed it off and returned yesterday, one day after the rest day for another strong Alpine performance.
Roche cracked under the pressure of Astana alongside former race leader Cadel Evans, but managed himself well and is still within striking distance of a top 15 classification spot. He started the stage today in Chambéry 7'44" behind new leader Andy Schleck in 17th place, one place behind Sky's Bradley Wiggins.
"I was feeling comfortable despite being a rookie in the high-mountains. I find it hard with the distances of the climbs," added Roche.
"I cracked from the chasing group with Carlos Sastre, but luckily I had team-mate Christophe Riblon with me. We got on to the Sastre and Michael Rogers group and them guys were right to the front to limit the damages for me. The team is doing an amazing job for me."
Roche finished the stage alongside team-mates Riblon and John Gadret. His next big test comes Sunday with the mountaintop finish to Ax 3 Domaines. After four days in the high-mountains, the Tour de France ends with a time trial Saturday and a flat stage to Paris on Sunday.
Roche's dad Stephen won the Tour de France in Paris 15 years ago. Last year, Nicolas Roche competed in the race for his first time, finishing 22nd overall.
He faces three categorised climbs today, with the last being the 7.4-kilometre Col du Noyer. The classification should remain the same as the stage favours an escape group.
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?
Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain
Bradley Wiggins: Tour rest day conference
Evans faces rough ride in yellow
Riis secures replacement sponsor but Shleck in doubt
Tour de France 2010: rest day review (July 12)
Armstrong's Tour de France dream ends
Sky's objective clear ahead of Tour's high mountains
The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views
Thomas: 'Yellow jersey would be unbelievable
Analysis: The role of Renshaw
Cavendish strikes back in Tour de France
Thomas happy with Tour's white jersey; but says 'All for Brad'
Wiggins crashes on Tour stage start
Cavendish and Farrar return to top
Cavendish keeps up fight for first Tour win
Sky delivers Boasson Hagen to third without pressure
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins