OPINION: How on earth was Hayden Roulston overlooked for the road cycling team at the Olympics?
After winning two medals on the track in Beijing, Roulston switched to the road and was sensational in the 2009 Tour de France when he featured several times and finished third in the 14th stage.
Roulston is simply our best one-day rider, a fact supported by results and our veteran Julian Dean.
The two most pertinent selection races should be the 2012 editions of the Tour of Flanders in Belgium and the Paris-Roubaix, both in April. They are one-day races that sort the men from the boys. Roulston (21st) was near the lead for most of the Tour of Flanders only to be caught late in the race, and he was 26th in the Paris-Roubaix despite a crash, two punctures and a bike change.
Roulston puts himself in a race, something neither Greg Henderson nor the fortunate Jack Bauer are expected to do in London. In fact don't be surprised if the six-seven hour Olympic road race goes by without the Kiwi pair being sighted.
A year ago a Dean-Roulston combination seemed everyone's pick, but Dean's injury set him back and Henderson has been putting his hand up. But Bauer for Roulston? Marginal.
Bauer seems to have been selected with the time trial in mind, though that is a hoot, according to Roulston.
Cyclists are a different breed. Unlike other sports, riders never hesitate to rip into each other then ride with them in the peloton the next day.
Roulston's response to being overlooked is measured by his standards, but he is miffed. He feels he could take court action "but won't because they are my mates".
"It's 260 kilometres. It's a one-day race. Yes it's perfect for me and something that I excel at, but what is one day out of my calendar," he wrote on his website. "I felt that I deserved the first spot, ahead of anyone. I've proven this year in any race of that distance and as brutal as the Olympics will be, that I can go the full way with the best."
Under new Olympic guidelines, one of the road riders must compete in the time trial. BikeNZ believes Bauer is top-15 material.
"Maybe Jack got the nod over me due to this, but actually Hendy is a better time-trial rider and has proven it many times before back home in New Zealand.
"You then have to question where the priorities are. I think the best a Kiwi could hope for in the Olympic time trial is not to be caught by Fabian [Cancellara] or Tony Martin, who start five minutes behind you.
"So why would you select a rider who could perhaps do a better time trial in an event that is not prioritised at all. It makes no sense. It's better to go with two fully loaded guns in one event and back yourself fully, if you ask me."
Roulston deserves a pat on the back for speaking his mind. The old Roly would've given everyone both barrels. He says all he wants to do now is finish his professional season with RadioShack and come home and see his son. He is a New Zealand road reserve for London but holds out little hope and says he does not wish ill on Henderson or Bauer.
BikeNZ said "Jack's abilities are suited to this type of circuit where he will be required to play a key support role for Henderson. Added to that Jack is an accomplished time triallist and he is a top-15 prospect for London in that event".
Roulston has been hard done by but has responded admirably.
- © Fairfax NZ News