Experienced Irish allrounder Nicolas Roche's main aim at this year's Giro d'Italia will be to provide support for his Team DSM teammates leaders Romain Bardet and Jai Hindley. But if he can lay a few bad memories of his own about the Italian Grand Tour to rest in the process, then so much the better.
This year's Giro d'Italia is Roche's 24th Grand Tour of his career. But the last time he took part, in 2018, he had to quit on stage 15, in what was his first-ever abandon and one of only two since turning pro in 2005.
While Roche is hoping to set a record straight in the Giro, he also has an eye on what the next steps of his career could be, with the 36-year-old keen to keep racing next season.
"It's good to be back in the Giro, I haven't done so many, I always tried to aim for the Tour and the Vuelta," Roche, who has ridden ten Tours and nine Vueltas but 'only' four previous Giro, told Cyclingnews.
"But the last Giro didn't go so well and I was looking forward to getting back and getting those memories out."
Riding with two leaders at DSM in the Giro this year, Jai Hindley and Roche's old teammate from his AG2R days, Romain Bardet, does not mean double the work.
"There are quite a few moments when we ride together as a team," Roche tells Cyclingnews, "Jai and Roman race in the same place and it doesn't matter if it's one rider or two on the wheel."
Asked to compare the two leaders' strengths for the Giro, Roche said: "Jai, last year, showed very good at pacing himself throughout the three weeks and Romain is getting more and more aggressive in the last couple of years.
"So it'll be quite interesting to see how goes in the high mountains for both of them, but even on Tuesday's stage," where the race has its first, fairly easy, summit finish, "as well."
Regardless of what happens between here and Milan on May 30th, Roche reiterated that he has no plans to make this season his last.
"I have clearly said I want to continue," he pointed out. "And at the moment I'm focussed on the Giro. But this will be a good start towards my future."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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