Thor Hushovd stated before the start of the Tour of California that the Cervélo Test Team “has absolutely one of the fastest and strongest leadout in the world.”
And today, they showed the world. In their first race together, the team perfectly executed the leadout train that they’d practiced in two training camps to put Hushovd on the top step of the podium of the 104.2-mile (167.7km) stage 3 in Modesto.
In the final kilometers of the circuits, the Cervélo team massed to the front and helped push up the speed to catch the breakaway. Then with one kilometer to go, Hayden Roulston hit the gas and set the cruising speed, Dominique Rollin took over in the final circuit and Brett Lancaster delivered the Norwegian to the line.
“My teammates, including Hayden Roulston, started with one kilometer to go, and then Dominique Rollin pulled to just the last corner. Then, Lancaster and I started to pass him [last remaining breakaway rider Jeff Louder] with only 150 meters to go, so our team did a great job today. I’m really proud of them.” said Hushovd.
With the slick wet roads, the team played the safe and came to the front to impose its rhythm.
“By being in front for the turns, we avoided having something bump us which could cause a crash. Also, it helped to set our desired speed in the turns and to stretch out the peloton to eliminate some of the competitors around Thor.” explained Rollin.
First time. After years of riding with French teams, Hushovd made the move to the new Cervélo squad as he was looking for a new challenge.
“I wanted to change something, something new, a new experience and not go to another French team. With all these guys, we are a good group of riders who enjoy riding their bikes and that’s important.”
In 2006, Roulston’s cycling career came to a brutal halt when a medical examination revealed irregular heart activity and he was advised to stop riding immediately. Returning to New Zealand, he experimented with some alternative remedies and was soon back riding and winning with a focus on the track.
“My first love is the road. But in New Zealand, the track is where you are looked after very well. So I’ve decided to go back to the track a little bit but being back on the road is nice. To be back, I’m really lucky to get a second chance because I might not get another chance so I want to make the most out of it.”
The team got together in two training camps to prepare the season and the leadout train. But racing was needed to put everything into practice.
“We have been talking about it [the leadout] and how we think it would work out. The only good training and practice we can get is in races, so we have to start on practicing and get used to each other, and then we just try and see how it works.”
“This is the first time I’ve been riding with these guys. I know that with these guys, we are one of the best lead-out teams in the world, and I think we showed that today. With these guys, I’m looking forward to the future and chances for another sprint.” said Hushovd after the stage.
Rollin agreed. “We did an excellent job. Our team worked very well and it’s a good omen for the rest of the race. It raised the morale and it lets us start the next day with a little bit less pressure. “