Sport

Saturday 26 July 2014

Ireland's Stephen Roche inducted into the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame

Jerome Reilly

Published 25/02/2014|12:50

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Stephen Roche pictured with his award
Stephen Roche. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Stephen Roche. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

Without a doubt, 1987 was Stephen Roche's golden year. In a remarkable few months he won the triple crown of professional cycling; the Giro d"Italia, the Tour De France and the World Road Race championship.

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And 27 years on, that astonishing triumph  by the Dubliner was  recalled  today when he was inducted into the  Giro d' Italia Hall of Fame  at a special  ceremony in the shadow of the Giant's Causeway.

The ceremony attended by  the world cycling press including a large contingent from Italy  ahead of the Giro coming into Ireland between May 9 and May 11.

The Grand Partenza or "Big Start" will take in three stages around Belfast,  the Giant's Causeway coast and  finally Armagh to Dublin with an expected sprint finish in the capital's Merrion  Square.

The Irish stages will be watched in 165  countries around the world as more than 200 elite cyclists and entourage at the event.

First organised in 1909 to promote the newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, the Giro is one of the world’s largest sporting events, with 12.5 million live spectators over the three weeks of the grand tour.

Along with the Tour de France and Vuelta d’Espana, the Giro makes up cycling's most prestigious three week-long Grand Tours.

The Giro has started ten times outside of Italy. The first time in 1965 when the race started in San Marino, since then the Grande Partenza has been staged in Belgium, Vatican City, Greece, Monaco, Holland, the Netherlands and Denmark in 2012.

Today's event was attended by  Northern Ireland's Minister for  Enterprise  Trade and Investment Arlene Foster.

The Dubliner is only the third rider to be inducted into the race’s Hall of Fame. Eddy Merckx - the only other rider to win the Giro, Tour and Worlds in the same year - was the first inductee  with three-time winner Felice Gimondi awarded the honour last year.

This year's Irish start  has a special resonance for Stephen Roche. His son, Irish independent and Independent.ie  diarist Nicolas will be riding for the Maglia Rosa,(pink jersey) as well as his nephew  Dan Martin.

Stephen says that the Giro victory was a highlight of his career.

 "I made friends  that remain with me to this day. To receive the Hall of Fame is very touching."

 Alan Clarke, Chief Executive  of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said 775 million people will watch the Big Start in Ireland.

"We want this to showcase the very best this country has to offer," he said.

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