Published Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Triple Crown champ Stephen Roche and Tourism Minister Arlene Foster pictured. (© DETI)
Roche is best known for winning the Triple Crown of victories in the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia stage races, and the World Road Race Championship in 1987, becoming the second cyclist ever to achieve the feat.
On Tuesday, the Dubliner became the third rider in the history of the competition to be awarded a coveted place in the prestigious race's roll of honour.
The ceremony was held at the Causeway Hotel on the north Antrim coast - the first time the event has taken place outside Italy.
Roche's son Nicolas, an accomplished cyclist and a past national road race champion, will compete this year.
The Triple Crown champ recalled: "The Triple started in the Giro in May in '87 and you know, I was the first Irish guy to win a major international tour and having myself being inducted in the Hall of Fame here, it gives you a bit of shivers really, I am delighted.
"It's great to kick off, to kick start the Giro's presence here this year and the enormous event and task that is out there to host the event.
"And I am delighted, I can't really express how delighted I am that the Giro is starting here in May, it is home, you know."
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said that Stephen Roche had "touched greatness" in 1987 when he won the triple crown of victories.
"It is fitting that he is being inducted into the Giro Hall of Fame in the same year as the great race comes to Northern Ireland."
The Giro d'Italia 'Grande Partenza' or 'Big Start' takes place from 9 - 11 May and when over 200 riders from more than 30 countries line up in Belfast for the race, it will be the first time in its history that it's held outside mainland Europe.
Participants racing for the maglia rosa - or the pink jersey - cycle across Belfast, the Glens of Antrim, the Causeway Coast, and down to Armagh before finishing in Dublin. Then, travel across to Italy to complete the 21-stage race.
The arrival of the Giro to these shores is not only expected to give the hospitality sector a welcome boost, it will also showcase the island of Ireland to a worldwide audience of 800m people.
Ms Foster added: "As Northern Ireland embraces the pink of the leader's jersey, there is no doubt this event will be a significant boost for tourism across the board. Hotels, restaurants, town centres, villages, local communities, and most of all the economy, all stand to benefit.
"In addition to the feast of cycling, there will be an array of family-friendly events and festivals, with lots of music, food and live entertainment for visitors to look forward to.
"Hosting the Giro not only gives us the chance to witness one of the world's greatest sporting spectacles up close, it will let us showcase our unforgettable scenery, as well as demonstrating that Northern Ireland really is the home of great events."
© UTV News