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Inside La Vuelta With Dominique Rollin
It was back in the Spring – after some strong early season showings – that we last spoke to Cervelo’s Dominique Rollin; he was enjoying the Vuelta rest day calm in his hotel room in Spain when we caught up with him this time. Dominique takes us inside the first few stages, talks about team goals, his own goals, muses on Grand Tour life, and much more. Read on!

PEZ: How did the rest day go, Dominique?
Dominique: I did an hour or so on the bike, just to get over the stiffness and cuts and bruises from the crash, yesterday [Dominique came down in the late, big pile up which felled half of the field.]

PEZ: How have you been, since last we spoke?
Dominique: Things turned bad for me after the Scheldeprijs, I caught a virus and had to take two months off, mid season; I came back in July and did Denmark and Limousin – and here I am!

A virus knocked Dom out for two months this season.

PEZ: What are the Cervelo goals for the race?
Dominique: Marchante or Phillip Deignan – he’s going very well just now – for a GC position; Ignatas Konovalovas for the time trial and Simon Gerrans hopefully to repeat his great stage win in the Giro.

Because we don’t have a Sastre or a Hushovd here, there’s no rider we’ll be focussing on 100%

PEZ: And your aims for the race?
Dominique: Mainly the bunch sprints, but I’ve run out of luck – two days ago I lost eight spokes in my wheel then yesterday I came down in the crash. There are two more days where I think I can do something in the sprints and then I’ll have to see how I’m climbing – there are some gnarly days coming up!

Rollin was up there today, he netted his first top 10 at a Grand Tour!

PEZ: Is this you first Vuelta?
Dominique: It’s my first Grand Tour; it’s going to be a great experience – my main goal is actually to get to the finish in Madrid in two-and-a-half weeks. I hope to learn more about my body by pushing it to new limits. Bearing in mind that he’s been a pro for a long time, it’s interesting that this is Roger Hammond’s first grand Tour, too.

PEZ: How was the prologue?
Dominique: I started when the rain had stopped but the roads were still wet and slippery; I couldn’t give it a full go. I was 29 seconds down on Cancellara – it would have been nice to see how I compared to him if I’d ridden on dry roads.

PEZ: Some tricky parcours, we’ve heard.
Dominique: The first day caught everybody surprise, I knew the parcours from the Ronde van Drenthe – there were some sketchy roads with lots of obstacles and turns; the rain made it even more dangerous and a few guys hit the deck.

The climbers avoid roads like these; the Classics guys know them and how to handle them, but not the GC guys.

It was very nervous; stop and go; changes in speed all the time – but good for testing your brakes!

PEZ: Holland – gimmick or good?
Dominique: It was good for the Vuelta and good for promoting the sport. It wasn’t so good for the teams with the big transfer; it’s not so good to have the rest day after just four stages and long air transfers after a long, hard, wet stage are never fun. So I suppose it had its ups and downs, but overall, it wasn’t that bad.

PEZ: Good crowds in Holland.
Dominique: From that perspective, yes, the whole trip in Netherland was epic, there were so many people packed beside the road; there were people everywhere – that was a great experience.

PEZ: How are the favourites looking?
Dominique: I never watch other riders – not the GC guys anyway, maybe the sprinters – I have to stay focussed on doing my own thing. The favourites all spent the last three days hiding at the back; you can avoid the fights for position back there, follow the tail.

PEZ: I notice your email provider is French.
Dominique: Yes, it’s my first language, I come from Quebec.

PEZ: Are the press back in Quebec taking an interest in you?
Dominique: I’ve been getting some good coverage, more since I started the Vuelta; they’re talking about it because I’m in it – it’s good for the sport. There’s a good youth programme back in Quebec – maybe that’s helped get UCI races in Montreal and Quebec for 2010.

PEZ: Do you get a chance to chat to the other Canadians in the peloton?
Dominique: Yeah there’s Ryder Hesjedal, Svein Tuft and Christian Meier – who was Canadian champion in 2008. It’s good on the long stages especially we catch up and have a chit chat. That’s four Canadians in the Vuelta; I think it says a lot about how the sport is getting better in our country.

PEZ: How was the transfer?
Dominique: It was a short flight – less than two hours; most of us wore compression socks for it, then we went for an easy spin today, I had a good massage after that, yeah, I feel OK.

PEZ: The transfer must have been tough for the team personnel.
Dominique: It was timed well, the truck left the night before – there are laws in France which govern how long you can drive a truck at a stretch – the bus left after the stage start and was waiting for us at the airport, here. The cars drove all day to get here – I think the team personnel will all be in bed by now!

PEZ: What couldn’t you be without on a stage race?
Dominique: I have my computer, so I can stay in touch by Skype; I’ve got a book to read, if I get a chance; I have my iPod for transfers and for getting in to my bubble before time trials.

Sometimes I watch Spanish TV but I don’t know many words – I try to hang out with the guys rather than be on my own and be lonely in the room. I have a room to myself just now, but we shuffle it, so as we share with different guys – but it’s quite cool to have a room to myself, tonight!

We’ll be talking to Dominique again as the race progresses; we wish him ‘bon chance’ for the start of the ‘real’ Vuelta.


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