It was Trek Factory Racing rider Danny Van Poppel who was first across the line for what was his first Grand Tour stage victory after a chaotic final few kilometres.
The 22-year-old Dutchman, son of former pro and nine-time Vuelta stage winner Jean-Paul, got the better of Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEDGE) and Tosh Van der Sande (Tosh Van der Sande) to take the win.
Roche was well down the field in 116th and there was even a split in the peloton coming to the line causing him to lose 27 seconds, but he still managed to move up one place on the general classification.
Impressively, Van Poppel remained in contention for the stage victory despite suffering a puncture with just over 10 kilometres remaining.
But he battled back onto the coat-tails of the bunch, moved his way up towards the front and engineered a good position for himself.
That the final 500 metres lacked the slickness of other, more conventional sprints, was down to the fact that the day’s breakaway remained clear going under the one kilometre to go banner.
The quintet of Maxime Bouet, Miguel Ángel Rubiano, Jaco Venter, Bert Jan Lindeman and Alexis Gougeard escaped within the first few kilometres of the stage and looked like they’d stay away to contest the finish.
Bouet and Venter were the last two to be caught with around 200 metres remaining, paving the way for the finishing gallop. Today’s stage takes the riders 178 kilometres from Calatayud to Tarazona and features three climbs; a categorised three ascent either side of a category one mountain after 72 kilometres.
Meanwhile, Eddie Dunbar is one of two Irishmen on the start-list for the Tour of Britain which gets underway on Sunday.
The 18-year-old Cork man will spearhead his UK-based NFTO team in the eight-day race where he’ll rub shoulders with Bradley Wiggins (Team Wiggins), Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Taylor Phinney (BMC), who were all added to the list of starters yesterday.
Defending champion Dylan Van Baarle returns for Cannondale-Garmin and will wear the number one plate while the other Irishman confirmed is Conor Dunne.
He’ll be riding for the An Post Chain Reaction team alongside Joshua Edmondson, Aaron Gate, Aidis Kruopis, Xandro Meurisse and Alistair Slater.