Nicolas Roche makes a move
Mountain stage tactics usually revolve around little beyond being fitter and more spindly than everyone else, but Nicolas Roche and Team Saxo-Tinkoff actually did something slightly more interesting than that on stage 15. It wasn’t a move that was particularly devilish in its complexity, but it worked reasonably well.
Basically, they stuck someone in the break and then had a couple of riders take off from the peloton later on in the stage. Nicolas Roche then went island hopping.
Attacking the peloton early, no-one followed him. He rode behind the first team-mate he came across until that rider was spent, at which point he moved up to the next one and did the same thing. This approach was enough for him to gain 17 seconds, including a time bonus for finishing third.
I didn’t know Nicolas Roche particularly well before this race. Being as he generally always seemed to finish in the same group as Jurgen Van Den Broeck, he was rarely interviewed, but a combination of a lack of British riders and a decent performance has seen him speaking to ITV pretty much daily. I like him. He seems to have a sense of humour.
The top five riders all finished together, although Domenico Pozzovivo clearly couldn’t have sustained a higher pace. You might think the standings are increasingly set in stone, but the penultimate stage offers the potential for large time gaps to emerge and really suits the out-and-out climbers. Even a couple of minutes might not be enough of a buffer should Vincenzo Nibali fade.
After a weekend that would be best described as attritional, we get a short stage, which could prove a bit more dynamic. That said, even though it’s a summit finish, it’s a long, reasonably shallow slope. Here’s the profile.