Legendary Giro d’Italia winner Stephen Roche led the pack during a recent Northern Ireland Tourist Board ‘Ride the Route’ cycling event from Bushmills to Carnlough.
The former professional road racer, one of only two cyclists to win the ‘Triple Crown’ of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Race series, arrived in Carnlough on April 15.During a professional racing career which spanned 13 years, Roche wracked up 58 wins and won the three major titles in 1987.
While taking part in the NITB scheme, Roche and his team, plus a bevy of local cycling enthusiasts, stayed at the local Londonderry Arms Hotel.
Owner Denise O’Neill said that having Stephen as a guest was a memorable and inspirational occasion. She told The Times: “We found Stephen Roche to be a fabulous ambassador for the Giro event. Everyone in Carnlough is very excited and looking forward to the Giro d’Italia. The village has big plans for the day together with Larne Borough Council, the Antrim Coast Lions’ Club, the Vintage Society, rowing club and primary school. There are many “pink” events lined up for the May 10.”
During the event, Denise’s father Raymond Hunt had the opportunity to speak to cycling champion Roche. He revealed: “Stephen was very, very upbeat and positive about the Giro-not just about the day, which will be a great success, but also the follow-up and the continuing impact of the event on tourism. It will also benefit the uptake of cycling as a sport.
“Stephen was an absolute gentleman and you could talk to him all night. He came here and touched Arkle’s lucky horse shoe in the bar.
“Larne Borough Council are working very hard to supplort Carnlough and the whole area and make the Giro a success. It’s great for the Glens and the whole of Northern Ireland” he concluded.