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Junior Tour of Ireland - NE
Waterford, Ireland, August 6-11, 2002
Stage 6 - August 11: Outside WIT, Waterford, 44 miles
Roche wins M Donnelly Junior Tour
By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Nicolas Roche today moved into the history books when he became only the fourth rider in 25 years to lead the M. Donnelly Junior Tour from start to finish. Nicolas, the son of 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, rode strongly during the stage to secure his hold on the mountains jersey and, more importantly, finished safely in the main bunch to make sure of the yellow.
Today's sixth stage was won by Welshman Geraint Thomas, who broke clear inside the final 1 kilometre rise to the finish and held off the pursuit of the main bunch. Stena Ireland rider Páidí O'Brien was best of the home riders in 5th place on the stage, while Roche crossed the line arms aloft in 13th. O'Brien's team mate Theo Hardwick also finished in the main bunch to end the race 3rd overall and win the first year junior classification.
Roche took the race lead in the opening prologue and fortified his grip on the race with a dominant display on stage 2. Echoing his father's time trialling ability, the 18 year old broke clear with 30 miles remaining and opened up a solid lead on the bunch behind. He reached the finish line 30 seconds clear of the next rider home and then rode strongly for the remainder of the week to make sure of a fine win. In doing so, he has joined Aidan Duff, Kieran Page and former Junior world champion Mark Scanlon in the illustrious group of riders to lead the difficult international race from start to finish.
'It is great to take this race as it is one of my best wins', Roche said at the finish. 'It is my second stage race victory - I took the Manchester Youth Tour as an under 16. Winning the Junior Tour means a lot to me, it is a big race and had a strong field.'
Roche will line out with the Irish national squad in the Junior Tour of Wales in two weeks time, and will then return to his home near Nice to build up for the World Junior Championships in Belgium in October.
1 Geraint Thomas (Wales) 1.42.26 2 J. Van Leijen (Tempo BMV Veldhoven A) 2 3 M. Cavandish (North West Division) 4 S. Roach (Wales) 5 P. O'Brien (Stena Ireland) 6 P. Johnston (Team South West) 7 J. Elfares (VC La Pomme) 8 M. M. Deboer (District Noord Holland)
King of the Mountains Primes: Prime 1: 1 Roche (Team Stephen Roche) 2 O'Brien 3 A. Esposito (Team Stephen Roche)
Prime 2: 1 Elfares 2 D. Bellemakers (Tempo BMV Veldhoven) 3 Roche
Prime 3: 1 Rudi Van Houts (Tempo BMV Veldhoven A) 2 Roche 3 M. M. Deboe
Team 1 North West Division 2 Tempo BMV Veldhoven 3 VC La Pomme
Final General Classification 1 Roche 11.01.36 2 Van Leijen 41 3 T. Hardwick 48 4 Van Houts 5 Elfares 50 6 L. Heimans (District Noord Holland) 52 7 O'Brien 54 8 A. Murphy (Scotland) 58 9 A. Esposito (Stephen Roche team) 1.02 10 S. Lampier (Team South West)
Points classification 1 Van Leijen 73 2 Roche 59 3 Elfares 51
Mountains classification 1 Roche; 2 Van Houts; 3 O'Brien
Young rider classification 1, Hardwick; 2, Elfares; 3, Heimans