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Roche Breaks Through

September 11, 2015

Thursday September 10

Roa / Riaza - 204km

1st – Nicolas Roche, Team Sky

2nd – Haimar Zubeldia, Trek Factory Racing

3rd – José Goncalves, Caja Rural Seguros RGA

General Classification – Tom Dumoulin, Giant - Alpecin

Points Classification - Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha

Best Climber – Omar Fraile, Caja Rural Seguros RGA

Combined Jersey - Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha

Most Combative Rider - Angel Madrazo Ruiz, Caja Rural Seguros RGA

Team Competition - Team Movistar

Nicolas Roche of Team Sky launched an attack on the final climb and held off Haimar Zubeldia of Trek Factory Racing in the sprint to record a huge win. Roche has been so close on so many occasions and given his domestic duties for Froome; the Irishman rarely gets the opportunity to ride for himself.

After spending the day in the large 25 man breakaway, Roche attacked the group on the final climb, breaking everyone except Zubeldia. The two worked flawlessly together to come into the final few hundred metres alone, still 40 seconds clear of the main peloton. The duo decided to battle it out, 'mano a mano' style. Roche led the sprint and had too much strength for Zubeldia to come over the top of him. The win gives Team Sky an important victory after having a tour to forget.

After the win Roche said, "There was a rider 20 seconds behind and when we saw that I just said 'let's just ride to the finish and we'll do a mano a mano sprint'. It was actually really good and we co-operated well since the 15km to go sign. I think that was our only chance. Coming into the sprint I wanted to lead it out. Haimar is someone who has got a lot of experience and I've lost a few sprints against him in the past, in San Sebastian for example. I didn't want to have a slow-start sprint, I wanted to have a really high speed one. I thought I'd try and manage my own pace. I smiled because I was happy that it worked. I thought 'yes, for once I didn't mess up'. I've had a few second and third places and I've always lacked that little small bit at the finish. Today it finally worked out."

Dave Brailsford was delighted with Roche's win and praised the popular team man.

"It was a really good day. Nico managed the period between the end of the Tour and start of the Vuelta very well and he came here looking to ride for the GC. He started off fantastically well but then he had his crash which took him out of the overall contention. It was a tough couple of days for him after that, but he's bounced back. I don't think he was thinking about the win this morning, but we wanted somebody in the breakaway for the team GC and he did a fantastic job. I'm super happy for him, he's a really nice guy, very popular and very well liked, and for him to win a Grand Tour stage for Team Sky is brilliant."

The overall GC remains the same despite a multitude of attacks from Fabio Aru of Pro Team Astana and Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha. Rodriguez attacked the main group early the on climb but was brought back by Pro Team Astana. Aru then launched a flurry of attacks to try and break the red jersey wearer, but Dumoulin was good enough to manage all of them.

With only three stages remaining in the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, the red jersey is still up for grabs and the scene is set for a grandstand finish into Madrid.

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Thanks Graham Watson for yet another great pic!