Stephen Roche Video: Important the federations don’t miss the boat when the Giro comes to Ireland
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stephen Roche Video: Important the federations don’t miss the boat when the Giro comes to Ireland

by Shane Stokes at 6:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Giro d'Italia, Video
Son Nicolas wants to ride race; ‘people back at home can have an idea of how big cycling is’

Stephen RocheSeeing the hosting of the 2014 Giro d’Italia as an event of serious importance for the sport on the island of Ireland, the 1987 race winner Stephen Roche has said that he hopes that the federations embrace the possibilities that the race could open up.

The Dubliner attended last Thursday’s announcement of the 2014 Grande Partenza in Belfast and said that securing the race is something that he feels proud of as he is the only Irish winner.

“I am very honoured…it is nice to have won it, but it is nice to have the Giro coming and starting here next year,” he told VeloNation in the video interview below. “Even if it is 26 years on, it is nice that the Irish people will get to see a bit of this event that I actually won and maybe kind of realise the achievement that was there at the time. It is also nice for the Irish people to be able to participate in this magnificent spectacle.”

Roche said that it is crucial that the hosing of the race leads to long-term growth for cycling on both sides of the border.

“It is extremely important, once they don’t miss the boat. I think they missed the boat in 1998 when the Tour was here. So we are how now in the Titanic centre…let’s just hope that the different federations get on board the Titanic and this time it doesn’t go down,” he said.

Roche was critical of the sporting authorities after he retired in 1993, saying that they didn’t do enough during the era he and Sean Kelly were at the top to ensure a better long-term growth of the sport.

However his faulting of the Irish federation over the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Dublin in 1998 is difficult to understand, given that the race was blighted by arguably the biggest drug scandal in its history and the reputation of the sport was badly affected at the time.

Many would argue that the Festina Affair impacted upon any boost to the sport’s participation level made possible by the race starting in Ireland.

However Roche’s point that the Giro stages in Belfast, Armagh and Dublin will offer an important opportunity is a valid one.

Part of maximising on the benefit of the race will be in having big name riders taking part, and capitalizing on that media exposure. Roche suggests that Alberto Contador could take part and, if so, that his son Nicolas would also likely participate.

“Maybe Nicolas could ride next year. His team, Saxo Bank…Contador is talking about riding here next year in the Giro, so if Contador is riding, I think Nicolas will be automatically selected for the Giro here in Belfast,” he said. “But it is too early to say yet.

“There will definitely be some big heads. This year we see Wiggins coming to the Giro, and Contador has already said next year he wants to do the double, Giro and Tour, in 2014. So we are more or less guaranteed at least one big, big name for next year.”

Nicolas Roche hoping to take part:

Roche junior has told VeloNation that he is hoping to be part of the line-up for the race. “I am pretty excited, I hope that I would able to get a start in it next year,” he said. “It would be something nice. The last time such a big race was in Ireland was the 1998 Tour was there.

“This is fantastic news, I hope it is going to bring up the cycling profile again,” Nicolas Roche said. “The High Performance side in Ireland has been going good in the last few years and it is really great that someone was able to bring the Giro now and we will have the start of a Grand Tour in Ireland.”

The Team Saxo Tinkoff rider has ridden the race once before, in 2007. He was part of the Crédit Agricole team then and had the role of helping the team leader Thor Hushovd in the Giro.

Several years later, Roche is back in the service of another big name rider, namely Alberto Contador. He will have chances in some of the races that the Spaniard does not take part in, but once they are in the same event he will likely have to give up his own chances for those of his team leader.

Whether or not Contador ultimately rides the race, Roche will try to be there. “If I could take part, it would be perfect,” he said. “I will definitely put my hand up and see what the team says. It is a year and a half way so there is loads of time to think about it. But as a personal preference I will definitely ask to go there.”

He’s clear of the benefits the race could bring on both sides of the border. “I am really happy that such a big event will go back there,” he said. “At least now people back at home can have an idea of how big cycling is and it could attract some other sponsors to come into cycling in Ireland. It is a very, very positive experience.”

Also see:

Giro d’Italia 2014 Grande Partenza confirmed for Belfast
Michele Acquarone Video: It’s very important for the Giro d’Italia to go global
Darach McQuaid video: Giro 2014 start in Ireland ‘full of positive symbolism’


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