Video: Roche pushing for Team Saxo Bank to allow him to start 2014 Giro d’Italia in Ireland
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Video: Roche pushing for Team Saxo Bank to allow him to start 2014 Giro d’Italia in Ireland

by Shane Stokes at 6:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Giro d'Italia, Video
“I expressed clearly my feeling and my demand to the team…I hope that I will get a favourable response”

Nicolas RocheResponding to the unveiling of the 2014 Giro d’Italia route, Nicolas Roche has made clear that he is determined to take part in the race and will lobby the Saxo Tinkoff team to ride.

Roche wants to grab the opportunity, being motivated by the fact that the first three days will be held in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Day one is a 21.7 kilometre team time trial starting and finishing in Belfast, while stage two also begins and concludes in that city, but takes the riders on a 218 kilometre road race stage.

Day three crosses the border en route to Dublin from Armagh, a 187 kilometre north-to-south trek which will bring Roche back to the city where he spent much of his childhood.

Like the other Irish riders in the peloton, Roche is fired up to be there. The start is seven months away but he has already been pushing his team to give him the nod for selection.

“I would like to be there, obviously. I expressed clearly my feeling and my demand to the team and I am just hoping that I will get a favourable response over the next few weeks or months,” he told VeloNation in the video interview below.

“The answer I got was ‘Nico, we just finished 2013. Have your break and we will talk about it in November.’ So I will see then.”

Roche joined the team prior to the start of this season and has been taken on as a lieutenant for Alberto Contador. The Spaniard is aiming to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España next year. Roche was fifth in the latter this season but has no chance of riding for himself if Contador has earmarked the race as a target.

Providing he is not required to take part, he could instead ride the Giro/Tour double, but the final decision will depend on his team management. As a result he is likely to stress the importance to them that he is allowed ride the Italian event.

“I’m excited,” he said, having seen the race route for the first time. “It was great to discover the programme for those three hard weeks between May and June. It was nice to see the stages are in Ireland, to get a sense of the profile where it is going to go. It is not going to have a huge impact on the GC of the race, but there are a lot of tricks…all of those of us who are from Ireland know the small roads and the windy corners. It is going to be a tough one, even though the profile is pretty flat.”

Roche finished his year very strongly and will head into the off season with strong motivation. However he believes that errors were made and he vows to learn from those and thus have a more consistent season in 2014.

“I made a few mistakes, I have to work on them next year,” he said. “I got overexcited in December, January and I was flying in February. By March I was already digging in deep. It took me a long time to get back on track, but I finished in a nice way. I was hoping to be able to hold the form until Lombardy but that was just pushing an extra ten days too much.”

The Vuelta a España was undoubtedly the highlight; not just of his season, but of his time as a pro rider. His self confidence has grown as a result of that, and so too his motivation to equal and exceed that performance in the years ahead.

“It is the biggest achievement in my career so far. If you take into consideration that I wore the four jerseys…I never had a leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour, and eventually I end up wearning all four of them. Especially the red one, which is the one I was really, really dreaming of.

“Also having that stage win was so important for me. I was missing that Grand Tour performance. Then finally breaking into the top five – last time around I was sixth, but it wasn’t top five. They are only numbers, but it is that little extra thing that makes me even more happy.”

Meanwhile his father Stephen Roche has said that he believes both his son and his nephew Dan Martin could perform strongly in the race.

“I think our riders at the moment are puncheurs. They are good guys. Dan is good in the mountains, good in time trials. I think Nicolas is a good all rounder. It is a difficult route for any of them. But they have the chance of definitely doing well,” he said.

“It is a magnificent route, I think…it is good for an all rounder. The first week for the sprinters, the second week for the puncheurs and the third week for the climbers, with a mountain time trial thrown in and a 45 kilometre flat time trial. So there is a bit there for everybody.”

Roche previously saw the 1998 Tour de France start in Ireland, although the expected benefits of that for the Irish scene were lost when that race was afflicted by the Festina Affair scandal.

Sixteen years later, a Grand Tour will once again begin in the country and this time he is hoping that the full benefits of that can be felt.

“I am delighted now that the Giro is coming and Irish cycling has a second bite at the cherry,” he said. “Cycling is coming up at the moment, even though there are some obstacles there now.

“I think that cycling will benefit from it and also tourism of course will benefit enormously from the Giro coming to Ireland.”

His hope is that there will be a knock on effect which will raise the level of the riders coming through.

“Ireland has had a very small population. When you see the amount of good cyclists that come out of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, it is absolutely amazing. So you can imagine what would happen if a bit more effort is put into it, a bit more financial help put into it, a bit more structure,” he said.

“I think that we will have the breeding ground for champions.


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