Nicolas Roche put himself right back in the top 15 today in Gap after an attack in one of the Tour de France’s transitional stages between the big mountains.
The classification riders enjoyed a leisurely day with the winning group more than 10 minutes up the road and two Alpine stages just completed in the last three days. Roche had planned something else, though.
“Why not?” said Roche. “Is there a rule that says we have to wait for a sprint and let [Thor] Hushovd and [Mark] Cavendish get the points?”
The Irishman of team Ag2r La Mondiale sat 17th before the stage, right behind Bradley Wiggins and 2008 race winner, Carlos Sastre. But he used the final, unclassified Rochette climb to launch ahead and jump up the standings by four places.
He attacked with 10 kilometres remaining and 1.5 kilometres to the top of the climb. He held off the others by over one minute at the finish.
“This morning I said what ever happens I want to give it a go on this climb because it wasn’t a steep climb. I lost a little bit of time on the harder climbs [in the Alps] because I can’t climb with the best. This is a way I can get as close as possible.”
Roche’s goal is a top 15 in Paris in a week and a half’s time. He faces two more transitional stages and then four high-mountain stages in the Pyrenees.
With his gains, the 26-year-old sits 13th overall and 6’23” behind leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). His next closest rival is Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), who 41 seconds ahead of Roche and 5’42” behind Schleck.
A top 15 in Paris? Why not?
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey
Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut
Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees
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
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
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