Currently in his third season with AG2R-La
Mondiale, Roche has ridden exclusively for
French teams. As an amateur, he rode with
local clubs while living in Antibes and Cannes.
A strong season in 2004 with the renowned
VC La Pomme team helped launch him to
the professional ranks, beginning as a stagiaire
with Cofidis, moving to Crédit Agricole, and
then landing at AG2R.
Roche is not the only rider to
juggle nationalities and allegiances.
Heinrich Haussler waffled between
nationalities, eventually opting to
retain his German citizenship. Other
riders have made more calculated
swaps of nationalities to gain Olympic
or world championship team berths.
For Roche, identity is more a matter
of where he finds himself and how
he feels in his current setting.
consider home where my post arrives.
And where my bed and sofa is ... well,
that can be anywhere.”
Sufficiently intrigued with his bicycle,
and a family with deep roots in
the sport (his two uncles raced as
professionals and his cousin, Dan
Martin, races for Garmin-Cervélo),
Roche took his first crack at bike
racing while living in Ireland. He was
twelve years old, and the race, the
Boot Inn League (named for the local
pub), took place in Dublin.
Giro d’Italia, Tour
de France, and the
in a single season,
the elder Roche was
not the one to push
Nicolas into the sport.
“I think the nationality issue is
made more important than it really
is,” he told peloton. “At some stage
I was a foreigner wherever I went.
I just felt that I had better feelings
about Ireland. As I often say, I’m
Irish with a French education.
Nothing wrong with that.”
“It’s actually the
opposite,” Nicolas revealed.
“When I made the decision to try
and turn pro we had a big talk,
since I was going to drop out of
university. He wasn’t impressed.”
“I finished second but there were only
about ten riders at the start,” he said.
Until he was a teenager, Roche
bounced back and forth between Paris
and Dublin before moving with his
family to the south of France. “Now
I’m in my third year of living in Italy. I
It didn’t take long for Roche to win
his first race, which he did that same
year, but becoming a cyclist wasn’t a
foregone conclusion. Roche played
rugby in his school days, and even
now as a slender cyclist he looks a
bit tougher than most riders. Despite
the enormous success his father had
enjoyed, most notably winning the
“But on the other hand, when your
teddy bear is a yellow lion, you are
probably into cycling without even
knowing it,” he joked.
There is little doubt, however,
that having a father who won two
Grand Tours and a host of other
major races provides access to
valuable guidance, even if Nicolas
makes it clear that the advice is to
be dispensed only when solicited.