Hayden Roulston was one of 27 riders in today's decisive split in Stage 3 of the 2009 Tour de France. The kiwi rider in his first Tour de France did everything right today.
When a select bunch of 27 riders broke free from the peloton with 30km left to ride, Roulston was with them. He rode alongside his Cervelo TestTeam sprinter Thor Hushovd whilst their team leader Carlos Sastre was left back with the rest of the peloton unable to react to the day's big split.
Roulston said he got into the front group easily, by virtue of his position at the time of the split. When he found himself in the group without his team leader, Roulston said he was unsure what do to.
"I panicked a bit. I didn't know what to do, whether to stay with Thor in the front or go back for Carlos," Roulston told RoadCycling.co.nz's on the spot reporter Brenton Vannisselroy. "I asked many times on the team radio. It is what I'm employed to do, to look after the leaders. We made the right decision in the end, Thor needed someone there and I was there and I felt pretty good."
As the final kilometres passed, Roulston did what he came to do in the Tour - helping Hushovd get in the right position to challenge for the sprint win.
As the break rounded the final corner with less than 1km to go, a nod between Roulston and Hushovd signalled the young kiwi's job was done, Hushovd was nicely positioned on Mark Cavendish's wheel.
Roulston then moved out of the dangerous sprint action, slowed down and rolled safely over the line conserving his energy for tomorrow's big day - the team time trial.
"Cavendish is the fastest man in the world and you have to very smart to beat him," said Roulston about Hushovd's second place to two time stage winner Mark Cavendish of Team Columbia HTC.
"I don't have that real shear horse power to lead Thor out in that last kilometre. I can get him to 1km no worries at all, but he needs someone to takeover from there. We lacked breadth today," he said.
Looking towards tomorrow's team time trial, Roulston said he believes Cervelo is strong enough to win.
"It depends on how the boys are feeling, a fast ride is a smooth ride. Its the same on the track as on the road," he said.
"I'll have a good day tomorrow. I feel really really good. I had a bit of a crash yesterday that sorted of knocked it out of me but I feel good and the team is ready.
For indepth Tour de France news written by kiwis for kiwis please visit RoadCycling.co.nz - Accredited Tour de France media.
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