The Team Sky man was 10th over the line, six seconds behind stage winner Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida on a day where Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) moved back into the race leader’s pink jersey.
Dumoulin was second across the line but because overnight leader Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) lost over eight minutes, the Dutchman moved to the top of the general classification.
Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) was another to really impose himself on the punishing terrain yesterday and he’s now second overall, with stage winner Ulissi up to third.
Roche claimed his best result of the race so far and gave the clearest indication yet that he’s timed his form to perfection for this three-week Grand Tour.
He’s in the race to support Sky team leader Mikel Landa and the Spaniard was also to the fore yesterday, finishing in 20th in the same time as Roche and he’s up to 16th overall.
But Roche is up to ninth overall now and it’s not inconceivable to think he could yet prove to be Team Sky’s trump card, should Landa fade.
The other Irishman in the race, Philip Deignan, finished 1:11 down in 59th and he’s now 69th at 4:52.
The day, however, belonged to Ulissi who timed his final acceleration perfectly, capping off the work from his Lampre-Merdia team and notably Valerio Conti, who set a searing pace on the final climb and thinned down the peloton considerably.
Today’s stage will see the riders travel 233 kilometres from Praia a Mare to Benevento and it’s a day that looks likely to be decided by a bunch sprint.
Meanwhile, the cycling world was left reeling yesterday following the news that a 21-year old Dutch professional cyclist died a week after falling ill at a race.
Gijs Verdick (21) was in his first season at Continental level and riding for Cycling Team Jo Piels when he suffered two heart attacks last week in Poland at the U23 Carpathian Couriers Race.
He suffered his first heart attack in the early hours of last Tuesday morning after stage three of the race, though a member of staff from another team stepped in to administer CPR.
However, Verdick suffered a second heart attack after he had been taken to hospital.
And though he had been flown home to the Netherlands for treatment since then, his team conformed his death yesterday.