Opportunity knocks - Roche


CYCLING:The 1987 Giro d’Italia winner Stephen Roche has stressed the importance for cycling federations to grasp the publicity boost that the 2014 Giro start will bring to Northern Ireland and the Republic, saying that there is a huge benefit that could be secured for the sport.

“I think having this event is important for the economy, but it is also very important for the cycling federations,” he told The Irish Times at yesterday’s confirmation that the 2014 race start will be held in Belfast.

“They should be promoting cycling to the ultimate on the back of the Giro, on the hope that when the race is gone, that cycling will benefit it and also maybe have sponsors coming in. Why not aim to have another Tour of Ireland in a couple of years’ time as a result?”

While Shay Elliott and Martin Earley took stage wins in 1960 and 1986 respectively, Roche is the only Irish rider to win the race outright.

He believes that having the race in this country may bring home the scale of the event and thus the importance of that win.

Magnificent spectacle

“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,” he said.

“It is also nice for the Irish people to be able to participate in this magnificent spectacle,” added Roche.

The route is still being finalised and race director Michele Acquarone told The Irish Times that he wasn’t yet in a position to give specifics.

“We are still working out the logistics,” he said, “not least the scale of moving the whole race back to Italy.”

It is unclear, for example, if the opening day will follow the traditional pattern of either being a prologue or a team time trial, or if the organisers will instead opt for a road race.

At this point in time the confirmed details see both the first stage on May 10th and the following day’s race starting at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and finishing at City Hall.

Day three on Monday, May 12th, will begin at The Mall in Armagh and cross the border en route to a finish in Dublin City Centre. Further details will be released at a later point.

Roche confirmed that his son Nicolas was likely to try to ride. “He is very patriotic and it would mean a lot for him to be able to take part,” he said.

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