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It’s that time of year to crack out all that is green, claim you have some distant relative who was once an Irish citizen and use this as a strong excuse to consume a pint or two of the black stuff!

Yep, it’s St Patrick’s Day time again and to celebrate this fact we wanted to focus on three Irish riders that we think are standing out from the crowd in the professional peloton.

Our first Irish export is Phillip Deignan. Phillip is a 26 year old native of Letterkenny in Co. Donegal and he is currently racing for the Cervelo Test Team. He has been a pro since 2005, when he rode for Ag2r-La Mondiale team and has made a name for himself as a bit of a climber. At 180cm tall and a light weight 64kg, he’s perfectly suited to flying uphill and he showed this to great affect on stage 18 of last years Vuelta, where on top of the stage win, he finished 9th overall in the general standings. 2009 was his best season to date with a whole host of awesome results and has set his sights on developing his talent as a stage race and Grand Tour rider in the future.

Next up is Dan martin, the nephew of cycling legend Stephen Roche. Again, a young gun at just 24 years old and there must be something in the Irish water as Dan also has carved out a place amongst the pro peloton as a tenacious climber. He’s been with the Garmin Team as a professional since 2008 and basing himself in Spain for the sole purpose of better training has paid off, as his best result from last season was his 3rd overall and 1st best young rider jersey at the Tour Mediterranean. He also wore the Irish National Champions jersey last year after taking victory in 2008. Jonathan Vaughters, Garmin’s team boss will be looking to him to take more responsibility as a team leader in 2010, especially when the road heads uphill.

Nicolas Roche, who is the son of the Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche wraps up the emerald trio. Nicolas wasn’t actually born in Ireland, but even though he carries duel nationality as a Frenchman, he’s as fiercely proud an Irishman as you’ll ever meet. A pro since 2004 where he started his career with the French team Cofidis, he then moved to Credit Agricole in 2007 and then on to Ag2r in 2009. He clearly feels at home in a French team, even if he speaks the language with an Irish accent! Last season he started to show his true potential, firstly taking the 2009 Irish National Championships and then finishing the Tour de France (5th in the young rider’s competition).

At 25 years old, he’s part of the new young crop of riders who want a clean sport and along with his cousin Dan Martin, they are members of BikePure, an independent anti-doping organization.

The 2010 season promises much for these Irish riders and a passionate cycling nation will be watching and waiting, not that they need an excuse to party!

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