Nicolas Roche had a day he’s unlikely to forget on stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana yesterday when he came down in a crash and was forced into a frantic chase to preserve fourth overall on the general classification.
The Team Sky man took a heavy fall with less than 50km of the 146km stage from Valencia to Castellon remaining but bounced back to his feet, and with the help of his teammates, began to work his way back to the bunch.
Roche’s elbow looked particularly badly damaged and he had to drop back to the race doctor’s car to receive some medical treatment. No sooner was he back chasing that he required a bike change. Roche managed to regain huge ground before the start of the category two climb 16km from the finish.
Credit to his Sky teammates Ian Boswell, Sergio Henao and Puccio for doing an expert job getting him back into the peloton, and that’s where the Irishman stayed for the remainder of the race.
Roche crossed the line in 26th in the same time as stage winner Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Quebeka) who edged out John Degenkolb (Giant Alpecin) and JJ Rojas (Movistar). Only 58 riders came to the line but all the main favourites were amongst them, with Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) retaining the race leader’s red jersey.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is still second overall at 57 seconds with Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEDGE) two seconds further back.
Roche is 1:07 down and will be glad to have reached today’s rest day so high up on general classification given the dramatic afternoon. Tomorrow the race heads to Andorra for one of the most difficult stage sof any Grand Tour in recent times. The riders tackle a six climbs, finishing on the category one ascent of Alto Els Cortals d’Encamp.
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