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



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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

Tour de France 2010: Pictures



Tour team presentation, Rotterdam



Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special