Nicolas Roche has described the fact that he and cousin Dan Martin are going to a third Olympic Games together for Team Ireland as "very special".

On Saturday, the duo will line up in the men's Olympic road race in Ireland's three-person team for what is most likely the last time together at a Games, having shared the tarmac during multiple Grand Tour, European and world championship events down through the years.

"I think it's very special," four-time Olympian Roche - son of 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche and cousin to Martin through Stephen's sister Maria - said in comments to the PA news agency.

"There are a few sporting dynasties and sporting families but it's been great that myself and Dan have been there for almost 15 years going to the world championships, the Europeans and the Olympics."

Martin will be racing in Japan on the back of an already gruelling season, having contested both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, which only came to an end in Paris on Sunday where he finished 40th overall.

While Martin was racing a Tour he called "one of the most intensive experiences of my life" for Israel Start-Up Nation, Team DSM's Roche has been training at his home in Monaco since finishing the Giro in late May.

The Irish road race team for Saturday is completed by Eddie Dunbar, the Ineos Grenadiers rider making his Olympic debut.

"He's very aggressive and quite similar to Dan at the same age," Roche said of the 24-year-old Dunbar.

"He's capable of producing amazing attacks. It's great to have Eddie there, a bit younger minded and not afraid to just try something."

Eddie Dunbar is one of Ireland's three road cyclists

Dunbar's presence helps bring down the average age in the team.

With Roche 37 and Martin 36, Saturday might not be the end of an era - neither man has any immediate plans to retire - but it might just be the beginning of the end.

"It could be, you never know," Martin said. "We're both getting to the twilight of our careers. I'm pretty sure I won't be going to the next Olympics so this is my last opportunity to get a medal.

"I've done the Olympic thing now, I'm not just going to get the t-shirt, I'm going to try and get a medal."

Martin may not expect to race in Paris, but Roche would love to sign off his career with a fifth Olympic appearance in 2024.

Out of contract with DSM this summer, Roche knows his future is uncertain, but he is not ready to walk away from the sport yet.

"The next Games are only three years away so fingers crossed," he said. "How great would it be to finish the last race of my career in the Olympics?

"For now I'm still pushing for a contract for next year but I'm going to think about it.

"It takes a lot of sacrifice to get to the Olympics. I'm definitely not a favourite to get a medal or anything, but it's just special to go."

Follow all the action from Tokyo 2020 with our 24-hour coverage on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player and listen to updates and live commentaries on RTÉ Radio.

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