'Getting married is tougher than Tour de France' - Nicolas
The pressure of the Tour de France may be over for Irish cycling royalty Nicolas Roche, but now he's preparing to race down the aisle.
The 31-year-old, who played a leading role as a "minder" as his Sky team mate Chris Froome won this year's Tour title, revealed that organising flowers and guest lists for his upcoming nuptials to beautiful Spanish fiancée Deborah Robles is a "good distraction" from the professional racing circuit.
"The wedding is a big thing and although it is stressful it's also a way for me to disconnect from the pressures of the peloton," said the son of former Irish Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner Stephen Roche.
"When I'm at home in the evenings thinking about the wedding and calculating if I've ordered the right amount of flowers for the table, or the technical details of who is coming or not coming, it's nice because my mind just wonders off to thinking about my honeymoon," said Mr Roche.
'Nico' will marry his Spanish girlfriend in Monaco in October and is approaching the big day with the same level of "marginal gains" commitment as the 80 race days he is involved in every year.
"We're getting married in the French-speaking principality. There is a language barrier for my future wife, so she does the research and I do all the phone calls and emails to help her as well. I'm quite the wedding planner now," said Nico.
He spent last week in Dublin partly trying to organise a Declaration of Freedom, stating that he is free to marry, as well as doing some corporate work with Sky.
"I'm on the phone pushing the team to put me in the next race and I'm thinking maybe I should be finalising the wedding. I still have lots of paperwork to do," he said, adding that the last three weeks have been the most unbelievable experience of his life.
However, Nico is confident he will race in the 2015 Vuelta as his girlfriend is also working at the event.
Despite being forced to miss countless family events, and celebrations over the years, Nico says his family and friends have adapted to his rhythm.
"These things happen when you are dedicated to your sport and your work. I am very lucky that everyone in my family understands my situation," he said.
"My closest friends have all stuck by my side for the last 15 years. I've missed most of their birthday parties, I haven't done any of mine apart from this year and I've missed so many Valentine's Days because the Tour of the Mediterranean or Algarve or training camp are right on that week of February, but everyone understands that now.
"Those who don't are not in my life and those who do understand are close to me and I need them, so it makes things a little easier when I miss out," he said.
But even on rare social nights out, Nico, who again wrote personal diaries for the Irish Independent and independent.ie throughout the Tour de France, must limit his calorie intake.
"My diet is strict but it's well balanced. Diet does not mean not eating, it means eating well, and that is why Team Sky has invested so much into having top-class dieticians and a good chef and a kitchen truck, which are three very, very important elements in that good diet." he said adding that he enjoyed a glass of champagne with the Sky staff after crossing the finish line.
Nico said every time he comes to Dublin he is "always surprised" by the people out on their bikes.
"I think it's great, A lot of my friends are in the business world and their best ideas often come from a spin" he said.