Nicolas Roche (AG2R) had another top ride to Ancares
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Ag2r rider previews final summit finish of Bola del Mundo climb
On Saturday the Vuelta a España faces its final summit finish of the 2012 race, the Bola de Mundo, a climb which rises to 2,247 metres above sea level high in the Sierra de Madrid. It is the last opportunity for Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to re-turn the tables on Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Tinkoof), or for the Madrileño to open up an even bigger gap overall.
The last three kilometres of the climb , which are cement not tarmac, are one unusual feature of the stage. Amongst the peloton, Ag2R rider Nicolas Roche, the team’s best-placed rider on GC in 12th spot, knows the Bola de Mundo from 2010, the only previous occasion on which the Vuelta has tackled the entire 11.4 kilometre climb and he believes it is “not as tough as the Cuitu Negru climb that we did last week.”
“The Navacerrada climb [that forms the first segment of the Bola] is not as tough as Pajares, the first part of the Cuitu Negru, either or as long.”
In 2010, the last time the race tackled the Bola del Mundo, Roche held onto seventh place overall with a sixth place on the stage, 4:43 down.
“It went pretty well, although to be honest you’re not really thinking that much by that point in the race,” Roche said.
“I had a good day so I just concentrated on [Frank] Schleck [fourth on the stage] and [Joaquim] Rodriguez [third], and then [Xavi] Tondo [fifth]. I was pleased cos I dropped Tondo, who was only a few seconds ahead of me overall, but then he got back up to me in the last 100 metres. “
“I’m not one much for thinking about it and saving energy, I go hard until I can and then I ease back. It’s a strong point but sometimes a weakness.”
According to Roche, by that stage in the game, in a Grand Tour’s third week, most riders are thinking more about their overall position
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