Nicolas Roche is taking no chances with this year’s Tour de France.
After French teammate John Gadret refused to give him his wheel in stage 15 last year, the Irishman is taking the extraordinary precaution of bring his own spare wheels.
“It’s a bit crazy but I can’t take the risk with Gadret around,” said Roche. “I’m bringing twenty wheel-sets and some other parts just in case.”
Despite assurances from AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu that Gadret will support him in the Tour, Roche has apparently hired his own mechanic and will have fan club members stationed at specific locations in the Pyrenees and Alps.
After Gadret declined to hand over his wheel last year, Roche admitted he wanted to “put his head through the nearest window.” Relations remain chilly and Roche has had to plan for the possibility that Gadret will again prove unhelpful.
“My fans have been great and I’ve got a whole caravan traveling in support. We’ll have the wheels ready if needed and I’ll be storing the bike in the camper too because I can’t trust Gadret or Lavenu,” said Roche. “They’re both French and it’s their race so I don’t expect much of a hand.”
The idea of stockpiling his own wheel-sets came to Roche after a long conversation with Tour champion Greg Lemond. “I knew what he was going thru, I’ve been there,” said Lemond. “Hinault and Gadret are both jerks. I told Nick if he wants to ride high on GC, he’s got to beat these guys are their own game.”
Roche is downplaying the rumor that he is also bringing his own food to the Tour de France. One unsubstantiated story revealed that last year Gadret was also unwilling to pass Roche the pasta bowl at the team dinner.
“Roche was hungry as it had been a hard stage but when he asked Gadret if he could share some of his pasta, Gadret refused and took his food to his room,” said assistant DS Herve LaRoue. “Things are not go good between them.”