The 2005 peloton includes quite a few riders with famous family names. Axel Merckx, Frank Vandenbroucke, Kevin Van Impe and Hervé Duclos-Lassalle are some of those, and so too Nicolas Roche, son of the Irishman who in 1987 won the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World road race championships in one season. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes caught up with Roche after re-declaring for Ireland to get a verdict on 2005 and his plans for 2006.
Living up to his father Stephen's achievements was always going to be a difficult task. However, much as Axel Merckx did years earlier, Roche Junior nevertheless decided to give up soccer and concentrate on the sport which made his father a household name. That comes with both advantages and disadvantages: he's guaranteed more attention than many other young riders, but also faces more pressure and the weight of expectation. He has taken it in his stride, though, riding well over the past few years.
In 2004 he had a consistent stream of placings in France plus a bronze medal in the Irish road race championship; this earned him a stage with the Cofidis team, the trial turning into a two year pro deal when he netted a tenth place in the GP d'Isbergues.
Heading into the 2005 season, Roche was just 20 years of age and the youngest rider on the team. But he quickly got into his stride, riding well in the season-starting Etoile de Bessèges. He was away during a long breakaway on stage 2, and then helped set his team-mate Jimmy Casper up for a final-day victory by going on the attack inside the final ten kilometres of the last stage.