By Shane Stokes
23 year-old Irishman Nicolas Roche is recharging his batteries after riding his first Giro d'Italia but will return to racing on August 8th with the hope of doing well in the Tour of Ireland.
The Crédit Agricole rider is currently training at his home in the south of France, and plans to build form prior to resuming competition in the Polynormande on August 5th. He will then do Paris-Corrèze on August 8 – 9 before travelling overseas for the August 22nd start of the 2.1 ranked Irish tour. The ProTour GP Plouay and the Elite world championships are likely to follow.
"I haven't raced since the national championships," Roche told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. He won the time trial and was fourth in the road race. "I had three days off and then started training again. It is hard for me to take a break because I am always afraid to lose form, but in the end taking one is often good and the form comes back pretty quickly. So I have to tell myself that.
"This is the first year when I have rested so much; it has been the first year where I have taken two days off in a row."
Nicolas is the son of Stephen Roche, the 1987 Tour de France winner, and mother Lydia, who is French. The family spent several years living in Ireland but relocated to the south of France when he was a teenager. He is consequently looking forward to the chance to racing on what used to be home roads.
"I am hoping that I will be at my best form in the Tour of Ireland," he states. "I really want to perform well in it. We get such little chance to race back home in Ireland that every time I go there I always want to give it a bit of special importance. It always feels good to race there.
"I started racing as a junior in France. I have been competing there for so many years that I have missed so many races in Ireland. So when I go back I like to show that I am there. I also get good support.
"I have looked at the course in the internet. There are a couple of hard stages. Ireland is never easy! It should be an interesting race."
He rode and finished his first Giro d'Italia this year and will be hoping that base will translate into strong form. He said that he will work hard until his return to competition.
"I have a fair bit of work to do on the climbs so I will train hard on the mountains behind where I live," he said. "There are some good hills there and I can do some good training."
The five day Tour of Ireland is making a return this year, some 15 years after the final Nissan Classic was held in the country. It is ranked 2.1 on the UCI calendar and teams such as T-Mobile, CSC and Unibet.com have already been confirmed, along with Professional Continental squads such as Slipstream, Navigators Insurance, Panaria and Colavita Sutter Home. The Irish Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team will also be taking part.
More teams are expected to be confirmed prior to the start on August 22nd. The race is backed by the Irish tourism board Fáilte Ireland and organised by the Event Group in association with Shadetree Sports.
Further details can be found at www.tourofireland.ie.