FORMER Tour de France champion cyclist Stephen Roche has been signed up to promote tourism ahead of the opening stages of the Giro d'Italia being held in the North.
Roche will promote travel to the area and accompany competition winners around the route as part of his deal with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB).
He will also represent NITB at key events and provide comments to the cycling press.
"I am excited to be playing my part in promoting the world-class assets, both cycling and tourism, of Northern Ireland," Mr Roche said.
"There is enormous prestige in being selected as the start venue of the Giro d'Italia, so winning the Grand Partenza was a great coup.
"The passion for cycling, and shots of this beautiful part of the world, will be viewed in over 165 countries, and this can do nothing but good for tourism."
Naomi Waite, director of marketing at NITB, said she was delighted to have Stephen on board and added that his achievements in cycling had made him one of the "towering figures" of the sport.
The opening stages of the world famous race will run from May 9 until May 11, preceded by the team presentation event on May 8.
More than 200 riders from 30 different countries, together with their technical teams and sponsors, will arrive in Northern Ireland for the race.
It is expected to attract around 140,000 visitors and generate millions in terms of worldwide media coverage.
One of the finest cyclists of his generation and admired for his smooth pedalling style, Dubliner Mr Roche racked up 58 professional career wins in a 13-year period.
In 1987 he touched greatness to become only the second cyclist ever to win the triple crown of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and World Championship.
He is still connected to the cycling world through a cycling vacations firm.
For further information on the 2014 Giro d'Italia and the Grand Partenza, contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board on Callsave 1850 230 230, or by clicking on www.discover northernireland.com/giro2014.