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Ireland's Roche wins in France

Ireland’s Nicolas Roche moved into the overall lead of the Route du Sud in France after climbing to a solo victory on stage two.

The Tinkoff-Saxo rider surged clear of his rivals on the ascent to the summit finish at Val Louron and won by 45 seconds. Team-mate Mick Rogers was second and and Alejandro Valverde third.

It was Roche's first win of the season and he now takes over from Jesus Herrada at the top of the general classification, 45 seconds in front of second-placed Valverde, with Rogers four seconds further back in third.

Roche said: "It was a super-tough stage today, with many of the climbs you will normally see in the Tour [de France] and a strong competition to make it even more difficult. But we managed to pull it of today. It confirms that I have recovered after the Giro [d'Italia] and that I'm ready for the Tour."

Elsewhere in Europe on Saturday, Philippe Gilbert moved back into the leader's jersey at the Ster ZLM Toer in the Netherlands by winning stage four.

At the Tour of Slovenia, Tiago Machado took the overall race lead after finishing second on stage three behind Francesco Bongiorno, who claimed his first win of the season.

Route du Sud stage two result

1 Nicolas Roche (Ire) Tinkoff-Saxo, 5:17:042 Mick Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo, +45secs3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st4 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ, st5 Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka, st6 Stephane Rossetto (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93, st7 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Sky, st8 David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +1:159 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky, st10 Julien Berard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st

Route du Sud general classification

1 Nicolas Roche (Ire) Tinkoff-Saxo, 9:39:072 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +45secs3 Mick Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo, +494 Stephane Rossetto (Fra) BigMat-Auber 93, +555 Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka, st6 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ, st7 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Sky, st8 David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +1:259 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky, +1:3210 Julien Berard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:49