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Hayden Roulston (HTC-Highroad) at the start
HTC-Highroad rider's future in WorldTour undecided
With the end of the HTC-Highroad team, New Zealander Hayden Roulston is left looking for another team to continue his career, but is undecided as to whether he will be on a ProTeam in 2012. The New Zealand road champion said he has options despite having a less-than-stellar season.
After winning his national title in January, Roulston was having a great start to the season, helping his teammate Matt Goss to a narrow second at the Tour Down Under and then assisting with two Tour of Oman stage wins.
When March rolled in, however, the year ground to a halt as the 30-year-old was hit by illness at Tirreno-Adriatico and had to work to get back into form for the Tour of the Basque Country in April.
"Then I got hit by a car just before I was going to leave for Pais Basque," Roulston said. "It was literally 70m from my house on a really narrow street. You're not really meant to drive on it, and I was riding up the blind side of the street and a car came out of the side. It really took the shoulder out of the socket."
One of the slowest injuries to heal, a separated shoulder kept Roulston out of competition for two months at a time when his team's future was still uncertain, and every result would count toward a possible future contract.
"I tried to come back and it was really tough, mentally and physically. I wasn't in a good space in my head and I struggled," Roulston said.
Finally getting back to competition in June, Roulston was still waiting to hear about whether HTC-Highroad owner Bob Stapleton would find a sponsor to allow the team to continue, but come August the team was done.
"Everyone thought there was a slight possibility it would happen. We were all of two minds as to whether it was or wasn't [going to continue] or if Cavendish was staying or going. I don't know if that had anything to do with the team folding, but there was still a bunch of great riders left, even without Cav. It came as a great shock - perhaps more for the cycling world than the riders."
Despite a lack of current results, Roulston has some solid prospects for 2012, but isn't prepared yet to talk in specifics about the team or whether he would return to the track where, in 2008, he took silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Roulston attributes his ability to find a new team to his value as a teammate. "I think of the contracts I've had, and some have been on results and some on potential, but most importantly it's what you can offer a team. Not everyone is a winner, and behind the winner is an important core group of people. I think I'm more in that role.
"Last yearr I won in Denmark on the Worlds course. That was an instance when we had good sprinters there, but I was in a break and I won, so that's a prime example... I guess it's important [to get results] and I've had a shit season, but I've still got options."
Under no pressure to perform, Roulston took in the Tour of Utah in the US, and will start the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado before heading to Canada for the two WorldTour races there. Then he will get a quick trip back to New Zealand to see his son before heading to the Tour of Beijing, which will be the last race of his season and the last race ever for HTC-Highroad.