Nicolas Roche primed for Giro challenge

Nicolas Roche will roll down the start-ramp in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands this afternoon as one of the two Irish riders in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

The two-time Vuelta a Espana stage winner will partner Donegal’s Philip Deignan in a nine-man line-up aiming to win the first of the year’s three Grand Tours.

It’s only the second time in his career that Roche has done the Giro, with 2014 being his last visit to Italian shores.

He normally favours a Tour de France-Vuelta double but for the first time in his career, could do the three in one year.

“Why not? It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while. In 2014 I wanted to do it but things went different and the Vuelta didn’t happen,” he said.

“The Giro isn’t usually a race I’ve targeted because normally I go better in the heat and the Giro goes through a few miserable days.

“I’ve gone more for the Vuelta in the past but why not the Giro this time?

“I know what works for me and I’ve been doing the same year after year. It’s great that I go well in the Vuelta but now I think I’ve caught up and I’ve done some really good work to get back to a decent level so why not?” he added.

Roche was referencing a less than ideal winter that saw him sidelined through illness on two separate occasions.

But three training camps between the end of March and the start of last weekend’s Tour of Yorkshire have him in mean condition again.

“I think I’m back in good condition, I’m ready to be competitive again,” he said.

“This month I’ve only spent three days at home and saw my wife for just one day in Madrid when I was coming back from training camp in Tenerife.

“But that’s what you need to do. I’ll have other times in the year to relax and make the most of family and friends.

“Now it’s time to commit and get results — those who love me understand that and don’t make it harder for me.”

His job for the next three weeks will be to assist team leader Mikel Landa as the Spaniard looks to improve on last year’s third place.

Also there in support will be Ian Boswell, Christian Knees, Mikel Nieve, Sebastian Henao, David López, and Elia Viviani.

Among those who will challenge for the pink jersey, or maglia rosa, are Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), defending champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabio Aru (Astana).

Today’s stage is a 9.8-kilometre individual time-trial after which the riders complete two more road stages in the country before heading to mainland Italy for the resumption of the race.

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