Irish rider Nicolas Roche hailed the Armagh-Dublin stage of the Giro d’Italia as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience as the race headed for Italy.

Roche sits in 27th place overall after finishing in the main bunch of today’s stage.

He told RTÉ Sport: “It’s an amazing feeling, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. I’ll never have that feeling again.

“I tried to make the most of it and give a bit of my time to everyone as well as much as I could.

"All I have to say is thank you to all those people who came and cheered us on. It’s been absolutely unbelievable.”

Marcel Kittel, of Giant Shimano, won his second stage in a row but Michael Matthews of Orica GreenEdge retains the pink jersey with an eight-second overall lead from Omega Pharma-Quickstep's Alessandro Petacchi.