Nicolas Roche revels in Chris Froome win

Nicolas Roche became just the third Irishman in history to be part of a win at the Tour de France when he helped ensure teammate Chris Froome’s overall victory on yesterday’s final stage of the race into Paris.

Nicolas Roche revels in Chris Froome win

As is tradition, the final leg was largely processional with the riders only cranking up the speed to contest the bunch sprint that decided it in the latter half of the 110-kilometre stage.

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won from Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) on a miserable night in the French capital, but crossing the line in the same time as the winner with Roche for company was the yellow jersey-clad figure of Froome.

Afterwards, the Irishman breathed a huge sigh of relief at completing a job well done, and he joined an illustrious list of Irish riders who’ve been on teams with winners of the world’s biggest race.

His father Stephen was on the Carrera team that won in 1987, as he’d won the race, while Shay Elliott was the only other, some 14 years prior to that again.

Roche Jnr said it’s been a trying few weeks protecting the yellow jersey and scoffed at the notion they crushed the race by being too strong.

“It’s been great, we spent a lot of energy from day one,” he said.

“That was the plan and I think it worked to perfection.

“It was to our advantage after 10 days of racing and we did really well in the Pyrenees.

“It’s been a bit tougher in the Alps but at the end of the day, Chris [Froome] did a fantastic job and the whole team was there behind him.

“We’ve been through some tough moments but it’s a fantastic feeling today,” Roche added.“A lot of people were saying Sky were crushing the race but it wasn’t true, we rode quite smartly.

“The first day in the Pyrenees Movistar put the hammer down, the next day it was Tinkoff, the third day it was Tinkoff again and three days ago it was Giant and Lotto who rode really hard.

“Every day we tried to manage ourselves as well as possible and I think the key to our success was sharing the workload amongst ourselves.

“It’s all about taking care of each other and that’s what makes a really solid team.”

They’ve copped their fair share of flak from the media and the fans at the Tour and Roche said that was just one of many things they’d to deal with.

“It is a lot of stress and responsibility; when you’re going down those descents at 80kph and you’ve got the yellow jersey on your wheel, it’s like, ‘If I miss a turn I could ruin the Tour’, or when you grab a feed bag in the feedzone you’re wondering, ‘Where’s Froome?’.

“It’s all these small little details that add up and today I think we’ll have a nice dinner and have a good chat and it’ll be a fantastic moment.

“Everyone has done such a great job, from riding on the flat with Luke [Rowe] and [Ian] Stannard controlling the breaks to us riding in the mountains and Chris finishing it off, it’s been very tough, very intense but a great Tour.”

Froome, naturally, was ecstatic after his victory.

“It’s overwhelming,” he said last night.

“It feels as if we’ve been up against everything. To have won the Tour once was a dream come true, to come back and do it for a second time is more than I could have imagined.”

Roche and Dan Martin (Garmin Cannondale) both crossed the line in the same time as the stage winner yesterday and stayed 39th and 35th overall, respectively.

The Tour wasn’t without incident over the weekend as on Saturday’s penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez, Froome was spat at by a spectator, while yesterday, French police opened fire on a car which attempted to break through security barriers around the Champs-Elysees before the riders arrived. No one was injured and the car drove away.

The race was in Sky’s grasp on Saturday afternoon until Froome’s closest challenger, Nairo Quintana, forced the pace on the lower slopes of the stage finish at Alpe d’Huez and put the race leader and his team in real difficulty.

And, following a stinging acceleration with less than 10km to go, the diminutive Colombian broke free and worked his way to the finish with the help of teammates Alejandro Valverde and Winner Anacona.

He crossed the line in second place after mopping up all but one of the breakaway men — Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) the one who proved too strong and he took the stage win.

Quintana was 18 seconds behind the Frenchman, and when he came over the line, he punched the air and eyed the clock to see how far back Froome was. The Team Sky man had 2:38 to concede at the start of the day so it really would have taken an extraordinary collapse for him to lose it.

Alas, he crossed the line 1:20 down on Quintana and managed to hold the jersey by 1:12 after bonus seconds were awarded to Quintana for his high placing.

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