Following his showing at just his second Tour de France, Irish rider Nicolas Roche has extended his contract with Ag2r-La Mondiale until the end of 2012.
The Dubliner was already contracted to ride for the French based team until the end of 2011 but team management moved quickly to secure his services for another season in the wake of another impressive Tour de France performance which saw him finish a strong 15th overall.
In his debut Tour last year the 26-year-old claimed a solid 22nd place while he also took the Irish National Championship and finished 13th in the 2008 Vuelta á Espana.
The Irish rider was disappointed by teammate John Gadret’s failure to wait for him when he punctured on the Port de Bales climb on stage 15 of the Tour but Roche, who initially targeted a top 15 finish, rode superbly to consolidate his place as one of the top ranked, and most feared riders in the peloton.
He has developed into team leader in his two seasons at Ag2r since arriving from Credit Agricole.
He was keen to reiterate this status at the end of the Tour, buying each of his teammates a watch in thanks for their help over the course of the three weeks.
Roche revealed the gesture in his column in the Irish Independent.
“To mark my first Tour as a team leader and to thank all of the riders on the team I bought the riders and my manager Vincent a Festina Tour edition watch and when we had a quiet minute on the bus after the stage, I gave them one each,” Roche explained.
“I realise that all of the guys put their personal goals to one side for three weeks to try and help me do the best I can and it was just a small gesture to show that I really appreciate all they did for me.”
The Ag2R squad finished fourth in the team classification in this years Tour, and won a stage with Christophe Riblon.
Roche has moved up to 49th in the UCI world rankings, which were released today.