Nicolas Roche grabbed an impressive record in the Tour de France. Any idea what it was?

Posted on: August 9th, 2013

Nicolas Roche, on the front in last month’s Tour de France, is the first Irish rider to finish all of his first 10 Grand Tours. Having ridden a strong Tour and bagged 5th in San Sebastian just after it, he should be in for another strong ride in the Vuelta.




By Graham Healy

In completing the Tour de France in Paris last month, Nicolas Roche (Saxo–Tinkoff) achieved the feat of becoming the first Irishman to complete his first 10 Grand Tours.

Remarkably enough, since his first Grand Tour – the Giro d’Italia in 2007 – he has never failed to complete any of the three week races he has entered. Since then, he has taken part in five Tours de France and the Vuelta a España four times.

As other Irishmen have found previously, it can be difficult to get through a three-week race and avoid serious crashes or illness for the duration of the race, and obviously the sheer effort of the event takes its toll.

Shay Elliott was forced to withdraw from his first Tour de France in 1956. He had crashed shortly before the start of the Tour while competing in a race in Copenhagen, and went into the Tour with a knee injury.

He tried to struggle through, but was forced to withdraw on Stage 4b.

Seán Kelly had to withdraw from his first Vuelta in 1979 when he caught a stomach bug in the last week having taken two stage wins in the first week. Kelly thought he had caught the bug from dirty drinking water. He would go on to complete 16 Grand Tours.

Stephen Roche pulled out of the 1986 Giro d’Italia, as he was still struggling with a knee injury from a crash the previous winter, which would affect much of his career.

Martin Earley’s first DNF from a Grand Tour was in the 1988 Tour de France. He would go on to complete eight Grand Tours in total.

Even though, there are higher percentage of finishers in Grand Tours in the past few years than there were in previous decades, it is still quite an achievement for Roche. In the last 15 years, the odds of finishing any of the three races has increased from approximately 70% to nearly 80% more recently.

To date, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) has also managed to complete all five Grand Tours that he has entered.

Both Irishmen are due to line up in the Vuelta which starts later this month. The mountainous parcours may well offer Martin an opportunity to add another stage win to his palmares following on from his stage win in 2011. And with Roche clearly in form, a very strong GC ride and stage win are not overly ambitious gaols for him.

However, both Roche and Martin have a long way to go to beat the record for the most Grand Tour finishes.

Spaniard Eduardo Chozas completed a remarkable 26 races, comprising of 6 Tours, 7 Giri and 13 Vueltas. The only race he withdrew from was the 1984 Vuelta.

To-date, 32 riders have completed all three races in the one season, with no Irish riders having achieved this yet. The most recent to do this is Adam Hansen who finished all three last year, whilst Marino Lejaretta accomplished this feat four times.