Stephen Roche

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stephen Roche, 2017

Stephen Roche (born November 28, 1959 in Dublin ) is a former Irish cyclist . In 1987 he became the second rider to win the Tour de France , the Giro d'Italia and the road cycling world championship in one year (alongside Eddy Merckx ) and was the first and so far only Irishman to win the Tour de France.


He got into cycling when he was doing his father's business (his father was a milkman in Dublin), delivering milk bottles by bike every day. He enjoyed cycling and joined a club. Roche began his professional career in 1980 and won the Paris – Nice stage race the next year . In 1985 he achieved his first stage victory in the Tour de France and was fourth in the overall classification.

In 1987 Roche - after Bernard Hinault's resignation and Greg LeMond's hunting accident - seized the opportunity.

At the Giro d'Italia 1987, the Carrera team competed with two leaders. Last year's winner Roberto Visentini wanted to repeat his triumph and had seven Italians on the team to support him. The second top driver, Stephen Roche, was almost on his own because only the Belgian Eddy Schepers stood by him. Visentini got off to a better start and won the four-kilometer prologue in San Remo, Roche was five seconds behind. Visentini only wore pink for a short time, then Erik Breukink took his jersey off. But even he only wore it for a short time. After Stephen Roche had already won the short time trial from Poggio to San Remo - Visentini was now two seconds behind the Irishman - he was allowed to pull on the pink jersey after the fourth stage. Carrera won the team time trial by almost a minute and it was now clear that Roche and Visentini could only beat themselves.

Hardly anyone in the team adhered to the stable direction given before the tour to support the best of their own team - regardless of their name. The Italians at Carrera only drove for Visentini. Although Roche wore the pink jersey, he was only a transitional leader for Claudio Chiappucci and Co. They worked towards the Visentini hour. This hit on the 13th stage, a time trial over 46 kilometers from Rimini to San Marino . Visentini needed over a minute and a half more than the winner for the difficult profile, but Roche as a time trial specialist was much slower. “One reason was a fall three days earlier, and I was too nervous,” Roche later wrote in his book “My Ride to Victory”, in which he describes his unbelievable year 1987. Visentini was now two minutes and 42 seconds ahead and the Italians thought the race was over. Roche would now work for Visentini, who would then drive for Roche in the Tour de France. But that was just the official statement. Roche knew that Visentini had already booked his vacation in July. Unlikely the Italian would work for him in France. So Roche sat down with his loyal helper Eddy Schepers. He shouldn't accept the defeat, said Schepers. He came to win and must keep trying. Stephen Roche tried.

Stephen Roche at the Tour de France, 1993

Two days later the chance to counterattack had arisen. The stage from Lido di Jesolo to Sappada was long (224 kilometers), but still an easier mountain stage. She became a legend. Although the stage ended with an ascent, after which there was only a small flat passage waiting, an attack on Rosa was not necessarily to be expected. And Visentini wasn't prepared. After the first climb, Roche attacked together with two other drivers. Team boss Boifava was furious. He drove to Roche and ordered him to stop. When Roche continued to lead, he ordered the entire team to chase and even Roche's mechanic and confidante Patrick Valcke was supposed to persuade him to give in - Valcke did not.

The Carrera team wore themselves out in the pursuit, but together with the Italian team Atala it worked. Roche was caught up, but was so strong that he was able to go with the following attack by Phil Anderson ( Panasonic ) and Jean-Francois Bernard ( Toshiba ). Eddy Schepers, the only Carrera driver who had not previously participated in the chase, helped Roche, while Visentini lost time on his own and tormented by hunger. In the end, Roche was able to get back on the podium and pick up the leader's jersey. He was not supposed to hand it in until Milan, even if Visentini prophesied shortly after crossing the finish line that some people would leave that evening. If he hadn't slipped into the pink jersey, Roche would probably have really left the Giro. But as it was, he stayed in the race.

However, the last seven stages were not easy. Roche had attacked last year's Italian winner and crowd favorite, who was also his teammate. The Tifosi threatened and cursed him on the following stages. The "Marmolada massacre" was supposed to take place the day after arriving in Sappada. The Tifosi pressed Roche, he was worried that he would be pushed off his bike. But he got unexpected help. Robert Millar (Panasonic) and Phil Anderson supported Roche. Together with Helfer Schepers, Millar Roche shielded the fans and guided him safely to the finish, where the Irishman still finished third. This passed the most difficult test. At the end of the Giro, when Visentini finally gave up and Roche enabled Robert Millar to win the first stage on the penultimate stage, the race normalized again. The team supported their captain, who won the last stage, a time trial over 32 kilometers - at the same time as Didi Thurau ( Roland scale ).

In the end, Roche won the Giro with almost four minutes ahead of Millar and took his formidable form into the Tour de France, which started in Berlin this year . The Carrera colleagues in the mountains did not support him on the tour either - again with the exception of Schepers. So the jersey kept changing and the tour remained exciting until the last day. At the end of the race, third-placed Jean-François Bernard was just over two minutes behind, and there were only 40 seconds between the winner Stephen Roche and second-placed Pedro Delgado - the third-closest result of the tour. Roche only overtook the Spaniard in the last time trial.

He then put on the crown on September 6th. Six weeks after the end of the tour, it was all about the rainbow-colored jersey of the world champion in Villach . Roche wanted to support his team-mate Sean Kelly , in the end it was enough for himself to win.

Along with Eddy Merckx (1974), Roche is the only professional cyclist to have won the three most important cycling races within one year. In 1993 Roche resigned from cycling .

His son Nicolas Roche (* 1984) and his nephew Daniel Martin (* 1986) are also racing cyclists.


"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. "

“Although it's a very tough and sometimes cruel job, my love for cycling is as great as it was when I discovered it. I am convinced that I will continue to ride my bike long after I retire from professional racing. I never want to give up my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his seventies, who still cycles everywhere. For me that's nice. And the bike must always remain a part of my life. "

- Stephen Roche


Web links

Commons : Stephen Roche  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ German Cycling Association of the GDR (ed.): The cyclist . No. 45/1987 . Berlin 1987, p. 8 .