What's Cool In Road Cycling

Nicholas Roche Gets PEZ’d!

Nicholas Roche is embarking on his fourth year as a professional, from his steady rise from being a stagiare, to wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour d l’Avenir, to finishing his first Grand Tour: he is progressing nicely towards the heights of his father’s career. PEZ was given the chance to ask some searching questions and Nicholas did not disappoint us. Famous father or not, he’s a good guy to listen too!

Quite often the son or daughter of a famous, successful person has to suffer under the pressure of having to live up to the mother or father’s achievements; this was obvious with Axel Merckx. Nicholas Roche is the son of Stephen, he who won the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and World Championships in the same year, so Nicholas has a high bar to jump, but a nicer, more friendly, helpful, down to earth bike rider you couldn’t find, he has the Irish humor and the French love of food, it doesn’t come much better than that!

Nicholas Roche in Italy in his first Grand Tour: the Giro.

Nicholas was born in France and has dual nationality, which has caused him problems in the past and in the end he had to choose which he was: he now is an Irish rider, living in France, riding for a French team, with dual-nationality with a French mother and an Irish father, which is enough to confuse anyone!

After being a very successful junior and finishing his education at the prestigious Blackrock College in Dublin, he had the chance to be a stagiare with the Cofidis team at the end of 2004. A solid first full pro season saw him as the youngest rider on a ProTour team with Cofidis. 2006 saw him finish 10th in the Tour de l’Avenir, take a stage win and hold the yellow jersey for three days. 2007 saw him move on to Credit Agricole, more top results and finishing his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia.

Indeed, Nicholas has a famous father: here’s Stephen taking the World Championships in Villach, Austria.

The future looks very bright for the young Irish/French star and with his sense of humor he can always go on the stage, his answer to my first question gave me a good laugh, setting up for a very interesting and amusing interview.

PEZ: What difference did you see between Credit Agricole and Cofidis?
Nicholas Roche: The color of the jersey!

PEZ: How do you think being your father’s son has affected your cycling career, bad, good or nothing different from other riders of your age?
N.R: Well I think the fact that I was surrounded by cycling things when I was a kid, kinda led me in that direction, it was maybe more natural to think about cycling and probably a lot easier to get the idea that I wanted to try the bike. Then I was crazy enough to stay on the bike, I think there are always two sides: it hasn’t always been good and easy.

The difference between Cofidis and Credit Agricole? The jersey of course.

PEZ: Which rider has impressed you the most?
N.R: That’s not an easy question; I’m impressed in every race! But globally my idol, when I was a bit younger, was Stuart O’Grady.

PEZ: Do you feel Irish or French, or both?
N.R: 100% Irish but love living in France.

PEZ: Which race have you enjoyed (maybe enjoyed is the wrong word) the most and why?
N.R: I loved the Worlds in 2006: being away in that break during race was amazing, so many people cheering – it was fantastic! But also my stage win in the Tour de l’Avenir, crossing the line first just felt so good! And then putting that yellow jersey and having it for 3 days was also a great souvenir, and finally last year’s Giro, even if I struggled in some stages, I love the atmosphere of a Grand Tour. You pick up little habits and things are good fun, the pressure is on all day for 20 days, and it’s a big relief when you arrive in Milan.

PEZ: What are your plans and hopes for your cycling future?
N.R: Like every kid I suppose to be world champion and win the Tour de France..that would be a nice story, but more realistically I would like to be good enough that I can be remembered for my results, and achievements, but also to secure a bit of my future in regarding to having been able to find something interesting after cycling…And if it can make me a bit wealthy?! Why not ha ha!

PEZ: What does the future hold for Nicholas Roche, life, love, and after pro cycling?
N.R: Don’t know, any suggestions!!? Hopefully the best I can get, I really enjoy been on the bike so I would like to ride for a good few more years and hopefully get a few wins, I’d be happy if I could aim for 10 wins in my Career, after that I’d love to have my own business. I love fashion, so why not have a nice clothing shop? My other interest is interior design, so maybe a nice furniture and interior shop! A kind and beautiful wife and 2 great kids! That would be perfect, what do you think!

PEZ: What are your interests when you are not cycling?
N.R: Fashion, cars, music, at the moment busy doing my apartment up, cinema, all the hi-tech stuff from phones to TV.

PEZ: What have been the highs and the lows of your career?
N.R: Well the highs, my victory in l’Avenir, the Irish time trial champs, and the low, a very bad saddle sore that made me not able to ride Tour of Ireland, I was hoping for so much out of that! It was a big thing for me.

PEZ: You finished the Giro in 2007, how did it compare to riding the Tour de L’Avenir in 2006?
N.R: The idea is the same but just much, much bigger.

PEZ: You must have been only three years old when your father won the Tour, have you watched the video? Impressive, no?
N.R: Yeah, I know it by heart; I know many videos in fact! Very impressive, there is a good video of him that the French TV, done with U2 in the background, great shots and great music.

PEZ: You were a stagiaire in 2004 with Cofidis, what was that like, scary?
N.R: Not really scary but had a lot of pressure, I wanted to do well and do something in that period of time, but there were also a lot of doubts on whether I was capable of riding with the pros.

PEZ: What is your favorite food?
N.R: Hard question! Probably the hardest or actually the easiest, I love food, and cooking, I love Asian (sushi, sweet and sour dishes) but also North African (couscous and tajin) but also traditional like entrecote or duck…

PEZ: Favorite drink?
N.R: Coca-Cola and cappuccino

PEZ: Favorite music?
N.R: Generally house music, but favorite is U2.

PEZ: Favorite TV program?
N.R: The Simpson’s.

PEZ: Favorite holiday destination?
N.R: Lately I’ve had no time for holidays, but I like coming back to Ireland for a start; but I have never been in the Caribbean, and would like to go next year to do a randonne across Finland with dogs and sleigh.

PEZ: Your best point?
N.R: Motivation.

PEZ: Your worst point?
N.R: Too stubborn some times.

PEZ: Favorite film?
N.R: Last Samurai and Lord of the Rings (all 3).

PEZ: Top historical and top cycling person?
N.R: Does Bono count?! I think he has achieved a fair bit in the third world, great man. In cycling I used to be a fan of Indurain and Rominger.

PEZ: Favorite pin-up?
N.R: Too many to write it down, love brunettes

PEZ: Do you look at the “Daily Distractions” on PEZ?
N.R: Not yet but will surly check it out….. Done! Good site, love the chicks part!

Well thanks very much to a smart and funny young professional for answering our questions and even if he doesn’t emulate his father’s results, (which let’s face not many riders will), he’s going to be a great rider and more importantly a great guy… Thanks and good luck for next year from PEZ to Nicholas. Don’t forget to look for the brunette “Daily Distractions”!

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