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It’s safe to say that Nicolas Roche is a gravel racer now.
After retiring from the road in 2021, the Irish Grand Tour rider has been, from the looks of it, having a lot of fun. Just this year, he raced in UCI Gravel World Series qualifiers in Sweden and Spain, competed at the inaugural gravel worlds, and then hopped the pond for BWR Kansas and Big Sugar Gravel.
Based on his results — he was eighth in Kansas and fifth at Big Sugar — he might also have a knack for the off-road.
In an interview with VeloNews after Big Sugar, Roche said that he has a lot to learn about descending and riding technical gravel. Nevertheless, Roche is putting together a gravel squad next year with his brother and one yet-to-be-named woman rider, so he’ll have plenty of time to work on his weaknesses.
Here’s Roche’s Bianchi Impulso Pro after 104 dusty miles of northwestern Arkansas gravel.
Roche’s bike is built with SRAM Red and Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels.
Roche at Big Sugar Gravel.
No massive cassettes for Roche, not that they’re needed for Big Sugar.
Roche came prepared with extra CO2 canisters and tire plugs within easy reach.
Roche has represented Ireland on the world’s biggest stages, including the Olympics and world championships. His next chapter is shaping up to include a lot of gravel.
Roche came prepared to fix flats.
Those are 48/35T chainrings with tried and true Shimano SPD pedals.
Roche turns to Zipp for his cockpit.
And Zipp again for his wheels. The 303 Firecrest is a popular gravel option.
It’s a French Wahoo for the Irishman.