Nicolas Roche’s 17 year professional career plus his dedication to representing Ireland on the international stage has segued into a new role, that of directeur sportif (sporting director) of Cycling Ireland’s senior road programme.
The position was announced on Thursday, with the 37 year old to oversee the preparation and management of athletes in races such as August’s European championships in Munich and September’s UCI road world championships in Wollongong, Australia. He will also act in a mentorship role to younger riders.
"Having recently retired from professional cycling I am delighted to be asked by Cycling Ireland to become part of the organisation in this manner," Roche said in a CI statement "I am very taken by the ambition and vision for cycling in Ireland and I really look forward to working with athletes and staff in preparation for upcoming international events.
“I benefited from support and guidance throughout my career, and I am looking forward to giving back to junior and U23 riders and hopefully helping to develop a pipeline of Irish talent.”
Roche is the son of the 1987 Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and world championship winner Stephen Roche, and was a professional rider for almost two decades. He took two stage wins in the Vuelta a España, led that race during two separate editions and also finished 12th overall in the Tour de France.
He competed in 24 Grand Tours, cycling’s three-week races, clocked up 64 top-ten finishes on stages of those, and also participated in four Olympic Games.
Roche’s dedication to Irish cycling extended beyond international competition. Despite living abroad in France, Italy or Monaco during his career, he returned to Ireland for almost every edition of the national championships, winning a total of two road race and two time trial senior titles.
In a long interview with the Irish Times last December, Roche said that he intended to work with his longtime agent Andrew McQuaid, owner of the Trinity Racing agency. He said that he would take up a position akin to a sporting director with Trinity Racing’s mountainbike team, guiding its riders at events and helping with planning and coordination of racing programmes.
His new Cycling Ireland role will sit alongside this and will require many of the same attributes and skills.