Name: Nicolas Roche
Team: AG2R La Mondiale
Role: Team leader (one of four) and stage racer
2011 World Tour ranking: 130
- Tour de France: 26th overall
- Vuelta a Espana: 16th overall, 5th in stages 3 & 13
- Criterium du Dauphine: 5th in stage 1
- Irish National Championships: 4th in road race
- Tour of Beijing: won stage 3, 4th in mountains classification
- Giro del Piemonte: 5th
Why I like him:
He turned professional the same year (2004) as my love affair with cycling started and he was one of a group of Cofidis cyclists I used to see riding regularly on the Cote d’Azur. I’ve never met Nico, just his famous Dad who’s both a blessing (experience and words of wisdom) and a burden (great expectations). Nico also has to contend with comparisons with his cousin, Dan Martin of Garmin-Cervelo. His former Cofidis cycling buddies speak warmly of him and, with that irresistible mix of Irish and French genes, I’m quite sure he’s a charming boy. Above all though, he’s a hard-working rider who doesn’t like to disappoint either his team mates or his fans.
I’ve enjoyed reading his book Inside the Peloton. It is built around the diaries he wrote during the Grand Tours for the Irish press in which he reveals his personal insights, plus delightful and amusing snippets of his life as a professional road racer punctuated with the tough realities of life on the road.
After steady progression through the ranks with Cofidis, Credit Agricole and now AG2R, he had a stellar 2010 in which he placed 15th in the Tour and 7th in the Vuelta. He was looking to build on those results in 2011 but his season was derailed by a crash and injuries sustained on stage five of the Criterium du Dauphine. Nonetheless, he rallied towards the end of the season and, with his stage win in the inaugural Tour of Beijing, ensured his team had sufficient points to remain in the premier division of cycling in 2012.
Where to see him in 2012:
After a few years being based in Varese, he’s currently living in Monaco and I’ve seen him out training a couple of times over the Christmas period. As one of four team leaders, we’ll be seeing Nico at a number of this season’s stage races where he’ll be looking to build on 2010’s results. An early season stage win would give a further boost to his confidence and maybe help him achieve his undoubted full potential.
He will be looking forward to representing Ireland in the Olympic road race at London 2012.
Watch out for regular updates tracking Nico Roche’s 2012 season over the coming months.