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Irish Tour de France hopes rest on Roche's shoulders

After the resounding success of last week's National Road Race Championships in Emyvale, Co Monaghan, with defending champion Matt Brammeier retaining his crown in a thrilling finish from Daniel Martin, all attention now turns to the Tour de France.

Martin, incidentally, just missed out on selection for the Tour, but Irish interest in the this year's event rests on the shoulders of Nicolas Roche.

Many are of the opinion that the participation of Alberto Contador means the outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Others say that the tour could turn out to be the 'Alberto versus Andy Schleck Road Show'.

The question on many people's lips is can the French brace themselves for the 26th year of hurt? Cycling's greatest race has not had a home winner since 1985.



PROVINCIAL

On the home front, for the first time, all four provinces stage their respective road race championships tomorrow.

The locals came away from the 'nationals' last week with nothing to show for their efforts, because of the presence of the professionals who made a clean sweep of the medals.


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