Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Nicolas Roche's Giro D'Italia Diary: Deignan produced super performance

In front: Julian Arredondo celebrates winning the 18th stage of the Giro
Nicolas Roche

Congratulations to Philip Deignan from Donegal. He put in a great ride yesterday to get third on a very tough mountain stage and it's really great to see him back doing what he does best.

Colombia's Julian Arredondo won the stage, while his compatriot Nairo Quintana retained the pink jersey.

The initial plan yesterday for my Tinkoff-Saxo team was to have a rider, or riders, go clear in a small group.

Myself and our Aussie road captain Michael Rogers were to stay with Rafal Majka, who began the day in fifth place overall, and were to support him for as long as we could.

At one point 11 riders went clear, including my team-mate Ivan Rovny and my Irish Olympic squad room-mate Deignan.

I rode on the outside of Rafal to keep him out of the wind on the climb and as we went past our team soigneur at the top, I grabbed a bottle and an energy gel for my Polish team-mate and rode up to him with it on the descent so that he could keep his place near the front.

We had a bit of a crosswind for the first 3km of the 16km climb to the summit finish, so I sat in front of Rafal again to try and keep him sheltered and save his energy.

As the climb got steeper, I dropped back onto his wheel and tried to stay there just in case he punctured and needed a wheel or my bike.

When the pace increased half way up, I drifted down two or three guys in the group. I wanted to get right back up behind Rafal, just in case, but as I was already on the limit, I knew the effort it would take would send me into the red and I would be dropped straight away.

In the end, it was an attack by Pierre Rolland of Europcar that saw me go out the back door 5km from the finish.

I hadn't much left at that stage, but kept a good enough pace to the top just in case something happened Rafal.

There was no point in me going flat out, though, only to completely wreck myself for when he really needed me in the last couple of stages.

Rafal was able to stay with the Frenchman and even managed to drop Cadel Evans. He is still fifth overall.

Rafal has ridden a pretty smart Giro so far. He's never played superman, never panicked, used the team well and followed the right moves.

Even though I didn't get much personal satisfaction on this Giro, I'm really enjoying riding for him.

He's a nice guy and always thanks everybody on the team for helping after each stage, and we have a very good relationship, which is great.

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