By Andrew Hood
In a year of comebacks, Hayden Roulston has one of the most interesting.
No doping bans, no suspicious test results. Instead, Roulston walked away from the sport’s biggest team in 2005 because his heart just wasn’t into it anymore.
Six years ago, Roulston was hailed as New Zealand’s most promising talent ever. He signed on with Cofidis at the ripe age of 22, then joined Discovery Channel for the 2005 season. Everything was looking up for the tall, powerful Kiwi.
Then a string of mishaps, injuries a lack of motivation and even bar fight that turned ugly prompted Roulston to turn his back on a contract with Discovery Channel.
Flash forward four years and two Olympic track cycling medals later, and Roulston is back in the bigs.
Now 28, Roulston will debut with his new Cervélo TestTeam at the Tour of California, his first major road since 2006.
“I’m grateful to get the second chance. I had it all once and I gave it up,” Roulston told VeloNews. “Not many guys get a second chance. This time I will do the things I should have done the first time around.”
Roulston will be part of an all-star Cervélo team that also includes 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd.
After California, Roulston will return to Europe to race at Het Nieuwsblad (ex-Het Volk), Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Paris-Nice ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
Will he make the Giro his big breakout race?
“It depends on what Carlos is doing. Without a doubt, there will be some big opportunities for the team. We’ll see how it goes in the time trial and team time trial,” he said. “If Carlos is going for the win, we’ll all be there to support him.”
After taking home two medals from the Beijing Olympic Games — silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the team pursuit — Roulston is going to leave the fixed-gear in the garage for a while.
“No track for me for a few years. I’ve done as much as I could in a short period of time,” he says. “I’m going to focus on the road now. I’m fully confident I can do the same thing big on the road.”
For Roulston, second chances are about getting it right.