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?

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  • John Dee

    Congratulations Nicholas Roche for showing aggression and initiative – something lacking in Team Sky.
    Unless of course Team Sky have another cunning plan. I seam to remember Wiggo saying he was moving to Manchester United from ‘Wigan’ in his move to Team Sky. If that’s the case Nicholas Roche is with Stockport County – come on Stockport!

  • Katie

    Good on you Nicolas, we need more of this type of riding,
    The reason I find the tour boring is that there is not enough aggression on the so called transition stages, everyone waits on the sprinters teams at the end so aggressive riding like this is a bonus.

    The tour is simply a collection of boring stages broken up by mountain stages where the climbers exert their prowess.

    look at the Sky plan which hinged on being non aggressive on the flats and hoping to do well in the mountains and shine in the TT’s, why can not the so called classics riders in the teams not try and distance the climbers.

  • Hadyn Bosher @ 77in Thailand,b

    Nice one Stephen.,sorry i mean Nicolas!!!though he would have probably done the same.giving my age away again!!,it is supposed to be a race,and why didn’t Wiggins have a try .full marks also to Moroeu,it might only gain a few places but it’s money in the team and justifes his contract.

  • jon smith

    right on – why didn’t any other top riders attack. Sanchez said he suffered today and he is in third.