First Italian Grand Gour since 2007 for Irishman
Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) has confirmed that he will be on the start line of the 2014 Giro d’Italia in Belfast next May. Roche’s first Grand Tour participation was also at the Giro, 20 years after his father Stephen won the 1987 edition of the race.
"As soon as I heard the Giro was coming to Ireland, I told the team I wanted to ride it," Roche said. "But the season was just finished and they told me to take a break and they'd think about it."
"We had our first pre-season training camp this week and Saxo Bank confirmed to me today that the Giro is on my race programme for next year, so I'm really happy to be able to say I'll be in Belfast next May."
The attraction of three stages in Ireland was too much for Roche to resist. "To be able to ride a Grand Tour in Ireland, it's not something you ever think could happen when you start racing at home as a kid," he said. "I won my first race in Dundalk as an U-14 and now I'm going to be riding through the same town in the world's second biggest race, as a professional."
Roche joins his cousin Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in announcing that he will ride the Giro next year. New Team Sky signing Philip Deignan could join the duo if selected while the presence of more Irish riders will depend on which teams receive wildcard invitations. Irish track world champion Martyn Irvine (UnitedHealthcare) and first-year professional Sam Bennett (NetApp) could also feature if their teams are invited to the race. They are among the eight teams that applied for a wildcard.
"The amount of Irish flags that I see at the Tour de France every year and other big races abroad always amazes me," said Roche. "I can only imagine what it will be like at home. It's going to be very exciting for us Irish riders in the Giro."
Roche is hoping that he can compete in both the Giro and Tour de France, using the Italian race as preparation for July. "I actually think that if I finish the Giro on a strong note that I could recover and be as strong, or even stronger, for the Tour de France, but at the moment I'm just concerned about getting set for the Giro," said Roche.