Nicolas Roche slipped outside the top 20 at the Vuelta A Espana yesterday after losing over 13 minutes to stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
The Irishman said he’s merely in survival mode in the race after suffering through the second week with a host of injuries sustained in crashes.
“At the moment I’m riding for survival a bit,” he said.
“I’m still struggling on the climbs and just want to get through these couple of days before the rest day tomorrow.
“I still think there’s a chance to get in the breaks and chase a stage win but at the moment, the mountains are proving difficult for me,” he added.
Yesterday’s 15th stage of the race took the riders 175km to the summit finish of Alto de Soltres, a brutal category one climb.
Rodriguez won by 12 seconds from Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and the former is now just one second down on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana).
Majka is up to third at 1:24 going into today’s 16th stage, another monstrously hard day that features seven catergorised climbs, finishing on the Hors Categorie Alto de la Cobertoria.
Elsewhere, Conor Dunne put in arguably the best ride of his career on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain.
The An Post-Chainreaction man spent almost the entire stage out front in a four-man escape, only being caught less than two kilometres from the finish line in Wrexham. However, having targeted the hot spot sprints along the way, he now holds that jersey going into today’s second stage.
Irish teenager Eddie Dunbar (NFTO Pro Cycling) was also active in the race, the youngest rider in the race taking some points in the climbers’ competition, signalling his intent to target that classification in the coming days.
Elia Viviani (Team Sky) won the sprint that decided it from Mark Cavendish (Etixx Quick Step) with Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) third.
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