Stephen Roche, winner of the Giro d’Italia in 1987, has today become the third man to be inducted into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame, joining five-time champion Eddy Merckx and three-time winner, Felice Gimondi.
His induction comes less than three months before the race visits Ireland for the first time, with three stages that will take it from Belfast to Dublin via Armagh, and took place at a location that will figure on the route of Stage 2 of the race – Giant’s Causeway, on County Antrim’s northern coast.
The year the 54-year-old won the Giro, 1987, was also the one in which he triumphed in the Tour de France and won the rainbow jersey of road world champion at Villach in Austria – only Merckx, in 1974, has won all three prizes in the same year.
Roche said: "I am very honoured by this award because the Giro d'Italia always has a special place in my heart.
“The 1987 Giro was a big victory and it opened up that year’s streak of magic,” said Roche, who lost the race leader’s maglia rosa to team mate Roberto Visentini after the Stage 13 individual time trial to San Marino.
Two days later in the Dolomites, the Irishman disobeyed team orders in the Dolomites to take back the race lead, sealing his victory by winning the final day’s individual time trial in the Aosta region.
“According to the press, only Visentini could be the Carrera captain for the Giro, but in reality, my achievements from the start of that season gave me the credentials to get a good result myself,” he reflected.
“It was really a great success – for the first time I was elevated to the rank of cycling champion.
“With the Giro d'Italia Grande Partenza in Ireland next May, it makes me even more proud of this great honour.”
Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport have produced a video showing some of the key moments from Roche’s victory in a race that is also remembered for Robert Millar’s second place overall – something no other British rider would do in a Grand Tour until Chris Froome at the 2011 Vuelta – and winning the mountains classification.
Speaking at today’s ceremony at the Causeway Hotel, Davide Cassani, former pro turned TV commentator and now Italy’s national coach, said: “As most of you know, I rode with Stephen Roche and I think he was one of the smarter riders I have ever known, very capable of managing his own efforts.
“I learned a lot from Stephen when he was my captain in the Carrera team. I believe that his entry into the Hall of Fame of the Giro d'Italia is a fully deserved recognition.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.