Giro d'Italia 2014: Nicolas Roche to compete in 'Irish' Giro

Ireland's Nicolas Roche finishing third on stage eight to take the overall lead in this year's Vuelta a Espana

Irish star Nicolas Roche will compete in the 2014 Giro d'Italia which will start in Belfast next May.

Roche, 29, has missed the Giro in recent years and instead competed in the other Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana Grand Tour events.

But with the opening three days of Giro action in Ireland, Roche was determined to compete in the 2014 event.

"I'm really happy to be able to say I'll be in Belfast next May," said the Saxo Bank team rider.

"As soon as I heard the Giro was coming to Ireland, I told the team I wanted to ride it but the season was just finished and they told me to take a break and they'd think about it.

"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.

"To be able to ride a Grand Tour in Ireland, it's not something you ever think could happen when you start racing at home as a kid," added Roche, who finished fifth overall in this year's Vuelta.

Roche's father Stephen Roche won the Giro in 1987 and went on to triumph in the Tour de France and the World Championship later that year.

The Irish rider's cousin Dan Martin is also expected to compete in the Giro while other home riders Philip Deignan, Martyn Irvine and Sam Bennett may also be in the field.

The opening 21.7km team time trial will begin at Titanic Belfast - the visitor centre at the site of the famous ship's construction.

The 218km Saturday leg starts in Belfast and will head towards the Antrim coast before returning to Belfast.

The final stage of the Ireland leg, on Sunday 11 May, will see the riders embark on a 187km cross-border section from Armagh to Dublin.

The riders will then have a rest day before the Italian section of the race begins in Giovinazzo on the Adriatic coast on 13 May.

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