By finishing the Vuelta a Espana today, Nicolas Roche has taken a step closer to becoming the Irish rider with the most Grand Tour finishes. Roche has now finished 15 Grand Tours and remarkably enough, he has never pulled out of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana.
The current record for Grand Tour finishes for an Irish rider lies with Sean Kelly. The Carrick-on-Suir rider completed 16 Grand Tours during his career, consisting of four Vuelta a Espana finishes and twelve Tours de France.
Roche has finished the Giro d’Italia twice, the Tour de France seven times and the Vuelta a Espana six times. His best finish overall to-date has been 5th place in the 2013 Vuelta. He has already overtaken his father Stephen’s mark of 12 finishes.
Roche has had a particularly tough battle in this year’s race, having crashed heavily a couple of times. However, he turned it into a successful race towards the end, when he took his second ever stage win. Roche took the win in the 18th stage from Roa to Riaza when he outsprinted Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing). He finished the Vuelta in 26th place overall.
As impressive as Roche’s number of finishes is, he’s still a long way off the overall record holder. The spanish rider Eduardo Chozas, has finished 27 (consisting of 6 Tours, 7 Giros and 14 Vueltas). The only Grand Tour he could not finish was the 1984 Vuelta a España when he retired on the last stage.