In his sophomore season at the Classics, Cervelo's Dominique Rollin faces a heavy spring schedule as he supports his team's goal of a victory at the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. While he is yet to be confirmed for Flanders, Rollin will form part of the team's roster for E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs-Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.
With Thor Hushovd being touted as one of the favourites for Roubaix, Rollin is hopeful his debut there will be made even more memorable.
"A success for the team would be a victory at either Flanders or Roubaix," he told Cyclingnews at the team's Classics base on the outskirts of Gent. "Unfortunately, Heino's [Heinrich Haussler] knee injury it's not helping us, but with Thor and the legs he's shown in Milan-San Remo I think we can still win one big Classic. Hopefully Roubaix, and have something good for Flanders."
Rollin is enthusiastic about his condition coming into the Classics and is hopeful he will also get the call up to race on the first Sunday in April.
"Flanders is still a big question mark,” he said. “I think the team like to keep the suspense. It'd be a bummer not to do Flanders, but it won't be a surprise if I'm not as I'd never been scheduled in for it. But it'd be great to be there to help the team. I've got great fitness this year compared to last year, and more confidence.
"Last year I didn't know what I was stepping into,” he admitted. “Now, I've started to know the climbs, I know the run-ins, where to fight and where to relax. I'm more comfortable."
His confidence received a boost last month when he finished fifth at this year's brutal Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. He then continued his preparation for the spring's major races at Paris-Nice, a decision that appeared to justify itself at Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen.
"I think a hard race like Paris-Nice this year, with the speed and intensity on the climbs has just got me fine tuned for the Classics," he said. "Since then I've been feeling really comfortable.
"Going up the Cote de Trieu (Knokteberg) I was setting the pace in the field and the guys told me after the race, 'what the heck were you doing? You were going so fast', I said 'I don't know, I was just trying to survive'," he said with a grin. "So it seems I could be a bit stronger than I thought. I just have to try to not get overwhelmed by it and waste energy for no reason."
Despite his increasing familiarity the northern European races, Rollin believes Cervelo's experienced leadership group remains its biggest asset in terms of dealing with the unique challenges so often presented on the pave.
"On paper we're not one of the strongest teams, but we're one of the most united and knowledgeable with Roger Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Andreas Klier and Thor. They all know those roads and those races by heart,” he said. “It helps orientate the rest of us so we can be there when we're needed."
His first assignment will be at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen on Saturday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Although a tough double-header, the 27-year-old said his team can afford to push for a result without impacting their chances at Flanders.
"We're not doing Three Days of De Panne, so with a week in between we can go full on this weekend and we've got a good six days to recover and do some more work,” he said. “It'll be fun to see who went too deep on Saturday and can't make it through on Sunday.
"The weather's supposed to be windy so it may be like last year where a group goes away by the coast," added Rollin.
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