MENTAUGOU, China (VN) — Hayden Roulston is back on familiar turf this week in Beijing, but this time he’s racing on pavement instead of the track, where he brought home two medals from the 2008 Olympic Games.
Roulston — who took silver in the team pursuit and bronze in the individual pursuit in the 2008 Olympic Games — is back in China in what will be HTC-Highroad’s final stage race before the team folds at the end of this season.
The 30-year-old New Zealander confirmed he has a contract for next season, but said he cannot yet reveal the team.
“I have a contract but the team will decide when it wants to announce it,” Roulston told VeloNews. “My future is secure.”
Roulston joined HTC-Highroad in 2010 and is riding this week to help Tony Martin, winner of Wednesday’s time trial, to bring home what could be the team’s final stage-race victory.
“It’s a bit surreal. It’s hard to believe that we keep on winning bike races, but the team is folding,” Roulston said. “It’s a real shame.”
Roulston was riding at the front in much of Thursday’s 137km second stage to help control a four-man breakaway. The peloton came in for a bunch sprint and Martin finished safely within the pack to defend his 17-second lead to David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo).
A day after Wednesday’s time trial that saw little to no crowds, Thursday’s second stage saw impressive numbers along most of the route into the hills west of Beijing.
Roulston said racing this week in China is no different than any other major European bike race, at least when it’s time to get down to business.
“Nothing’s different except the country. We’re racing hard. It’s the same peloton, it’s still fast,” he said. “There have been amazing crowds today. There was a concern about safety, but they had security on the entire course today. Everyone noticed the big crowds today.”