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Stephen Roche

From Academic Kids

Stephen Roche (born November 28 1959 in Dundrum near Dublin, Ireland) is a retired professional cyclist. In a 13-year career, he peaked in 1987, becoming only the second cyclist in history to win the Triple Crown of overall victories in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia stage races, plus victory in the World Cycling Championship.

Contents

Early career

Roche turned professional in 1980 and won the early season Paris-Nice stage race the following year. In 1982, his best performance was second in the Amstel Gold Race, but his rise to prominence continued in 1983, with victories in the Tour de Romandie and two other races, plus a third place in the World Cycling Championship. He repeated his Romandie victory in 1984 and was also second in Paris-Nice.

Tour de France

He did well in the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, finishing 13th and 25th respectively. In 1985 he finished third, only four minutes 29 seconds behind the winner, Bernard Hinault. 1985 also saw Roche victorious in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and the Criterium International, second (again) in Paris-Nice, and third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

In 1986 after switching sponsors from Peugeot to Carrera, Roche took a bad fall in Paris-Bercy and was unable to perform well in the other races that year.

Triple Crown

Then, in 1987, Roche had a tremendous Spring season, taking fourth place, plus a stage victory in Paris-Nice, and finishing second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège - the closest he got to winning a 'Monument' Classic. He then took two stage wins en route to overall victory in the Giro d'Italia - the first Giro victor from outside mainland Europe.

Following Hinault's retirement, and with Greg LeMond out injured following a hunting accident, the 1987 Tour de France was one of the most open. Roche raced hard, winning the 87.5km individual time trial stage 10 to Futuroscope, taking second on stage 19 and requiring oxygen at the finish of another particularly gruelling Alpine stage where, to limit his time loss, he had had to chase his nearest rival Pedro Delgado. The yellow jersey changed hands several times between Charly Mottet, Roche, Jean François Bernard and Delgado, before Roche used the final 35km time trial to overturn a half-minute gap and win the Tour by what was at the time the narrowest margin ever: 40 seconds (two years later, the recovered Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds). Roche thus became only the fifth cyclist in history to win the Tour de France and the Giro in the same year.

Then, with victory at the World road race championship, Roche became only the second cyclist in history to have won the Triple Crown of Cycling. And after such a year, victory in the season-long Super Prestige Pernod International competition was probably only to be expected.

Late career

After such a momentous year, subsequent years paled by comparison, but Roche was still a force to be reckoned with. In 1989 and 1990, he again took second places in the Paris-Nice stage race (making four second places in total), winning the Tour of Basque Country in 1989 and the Four Days of Dunkirk in 1990.

In the Grand Tours, he was ninth in the 1989 Giro, and won a stage of the 1992 Tour de France en route to a final ninth place. A year later, he was again ninth in the Giro and 13th in the Tour de France.

In 1993, Roche retired from professional cycling and subsequently established bicycle training camps on the Spanish island of Majorca.

Quotes

While it is a very hard and sometimes very cruel profession, my love for the bike remains as strong now as it was in the days when I first discovered it. I am convinced that long after I have stopped riding as a professional I will be riding my bicycle. I never want to abandon my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his seventies and riding around everywhere. To me that is beautiful. And the bike must always remain a part of my life.
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