Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) has spoken to Sky Sports News in advance of the Tour de France about his excitement at taking part in the race.
He said: “I’m really proud and excited to be part of Team Sky for their sixth Tour de France. It was a great start to the year and nice to be a part of the stage races we won. Listening to Chris Froome saying he’s had a more relaxed approach and is more ready than ever – it’s very very exciting for me.”
Roche also spoke about the strength of the team, saying, “The way the team is balanced, you have some experienced riders, some young riders, some cobbled classics riders, then some pure climbers and then quite a decent field of riders who can ride on medium mountains as well. The team was well thought-out with different roles, and for everyone to know what to do and when. I think that will be the main strength.”
“I think my role this year will be quite different to some other years. With the quality of pure climbers we have I could play a role in the first part of the stage rather than in the high mountains where I’ve been in the last few years. It’s quite an interesting role. Making sure the right breakaway goes away and trying to control the race in those really key stages. And when you are behind one of the strongest athletes in the world, that makes things even easier.”
Froome and Roche have trained together quite a lot together this year, and the Irishman feels that he has learnt from Froome. “I have worked really closely with him for the last nine months since last November and we have been building a great relationship and I have really enjoyed being beside him. The way he studies everything and the way he likes to take in every single detail – anything from tyre pressure to recons of key stages to studying his opponents and the teams that are going to be against us – that is as important as his physical capabilities.”
“It is also the way he manages a team. This sport has become more and more a team sport and you need to be able to manage that group of lads who are going to give every last effort for you to win those precious seconds.”
Roche is hopeful that this year’s Tour will be more exciting than last year’s. “Last year was set to be the most exciting Tour and, unfortunately, two of the main contenders crashed out after the first week and Nibali just dominated the last 10 days. I certainly hope that this year is going to be exciting. The public needs an exciting race. The Tour de France has been quite monotonous for some years and quite exciting for other years, which is why people look more at the Giro because there are more things happening.
“The course this year is made to be a more exciting race, much more open – fewer flat stages and fewer pure mountain stages, but a lot of intermediate stages, so you can create a bit of a surprise. Those medium stages are going to be very exciting and open to a lot more battles between the main GC guys.”