Hayden Roulston has probably never been as lean as he is as he prepares for his season debut at the Santos Tour Down Under. And he showed how it can be a vital factor when combined with great form last weekend, when he dominated the New Zealand national championship. He jump from group to group for 70km and then took an impressive solo win.
Roulston only received his new jersey on Friday evening. The design impressed Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad teammates who will have to get used to following a jersey that looks 'all black' from the front but is mostly white on the back.
“The white part means it not too hot in the sun,”, Roulston said, proud of his national colours. “People might think that the New Zealand championship is a small race but the average speed was f…king high."
Roulston admitted he's had a good winter and is more disciplined and focused than in the past. “I’m just doing things right now”, said Roulston who has been a professional since 2003, first with Cofidis and then with US Postal, Health Net and Cervelo. He joined HTC in 2010.
He turned 30 this week and knows he is in the running to be part of Cavendish’s lead out train for the Tour de France. He’s hoping to have his own chances at the Santos Tour Down Under.
“This is the first race I have really prepared for,” he admitted. “My form is bloody good. I’d like to get a stage win here. I won’t be riding much on the front for our sprinters. Danny Pate and Bert Grabsch are here for that.”
The hilliest and second last stage to Willunga is at the back of Roulston's mind although HTC-Highroad is also likely to ride for Matt Goss, who is also on good form. Stage 3 to Stirling looks good for Roulston too but he reckons this one looks even better for Goss.
“After the Tour Down Under, I’ll go back to New Zealand for three weeks”, he said. “Then I’ll do the Tour of Oman and depending how I come out of that one and the travel back to Europe, my first big goal will be the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.” Tirreno-Adriatico is also on his race program before all the Flemish classics until Paris-Roubaix."
The second part of Roulston's season includes the Tour of California, the Tour de Suisse and possibly the Tour de France, where he’s could be the third last man of Cavendish’s train before Bernhard Eisel and Mark Renshaw.
With Garmin-Cervélo having a stronger team to help Farrar and Hushovd, and other teams also beefing up their squads, the sprints are set to even more competitive in 2011 and so lead out trains will be even more vital.
“Yes but with Cavendish, everyone looks to us anyway,” Roulston points out. “There’s always competition and we’re pretty lucky to have Cavendish in the team. We'll be fine."