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Roche to start Giro in Belfast

CYCLING: Irish rider Nicolas Roche has confirmed that he will be part of the Saxo Bank team that will ride the 2014 Giro d'Italia when it begins in Belfast next May.

The three-week Italian race was the first Grand Tour of Roche's career – the Dubliner made his debut in the 2007 Giro, 20 years after his father Stephen won the race – but he hasn't ridden it since, concentrating on the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana later in the season.

"As soon as I heard the Giro was coming to Ireland, I told the team I wanted to ride it," Roche said yesterday.

"We had our first pre-season training camp this week and Saxo Bank confirmed to me today that the Giro is on my race programme for next year, so I'm really happy to be able to say I'll be in Belfast next May."


RUGBY: Tickets for Ireland's 2015 Rugby World Cup pool games will be nearly three times more expensive than those in the 2011 competition.

After the dates and venues were confirmed yesterday, awkward Sunday evening kick-off times will ensure that accommodation and transport costs will push the costs well above four figures for Irish supporters.

In New Zealand two years ago, it was possible for Irish supporters to attend all four of Ireland's pool games for under €400 but similar standard tickets this time around have pushed the price for the four games to just short of €1,000.


cricket: Pakistan clinched a nail-biting match against South Africa by one run in Port Elizabeth to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in their one-day international series.

South Africa looked well on course to chase down Pakistan's 262 all out as Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers powered them to 227 for three with a superb fourth-wicket stand worth 110 in just 13 overs at St George's Park.

However, both players fell going for big shots in the closing overs, De Villiers first for 74 and then Amla for 98, and suddenly South Africa found themselves needing nine off the final over to be bowled by Junaid Khan.

The paceman (three for 42) dismissed JP Duminy (15) with his second ball and, with eight needed off four, David Miller and Ryan McLaren could not get South Africa over the winning line.


athletics: Mary Cullen has been withdrawn from the Irish women's team for the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade next month after failing to prove her fitness following a sequence of setbacks in her preparation for the event on Sunday-week.

Her place on the team, which defends the women's European title, goes to Dublin Women's Marathon winner Maria McCambridge.