Giro d'Italia: Roche ready for 'long haul' in opening Grand Tour

Nicolas Roche hints that he will be cautious on the opening three Irish stages of this year's Giro d'Italia which starts in Belfast on Friday.

"It's 21 days and we're not riding the Tour of Ireland. It's the Tour of Italy and I have to be focused for the actual race and not just the three days here," said Irishman Roche on Wednesday.

However, both Roche and his compatriot and cousin Dan Martin agreed that they are expecting to sample a "special atmosphere" as Grand Tour action takes place on Irish soil for the first time since the 1998 Tour de France.

2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans said that he will be aiming to emerge from the Irish stages without losing significant time.