In the first part of our conversation with Toyota-United rider Dominique Rollin, we talked about his racing start in Quebec, Canada and his years, sometimes difficult, of living and racing in Europe.
Looking back on 2007
At the end of 2006, Dominique Rollin made the decision to return to North American and signed with the American Pro team Kodak-Galley and returned to raced in North American circuit for the 2007 season. “I wanted to reduce my travels, stay closer to home.”
The year started off strong for Rollin with his new team with back-to-back victories in Jacksonville and NRC wins at Roswell and Walterboro. The team was still learning to work together and Rollin felt that there were some coordination problems. “You get to know each other, you come from the amateur level so you don’t really know what to do, a little more energy in the management can bring about a team that works well…. it’s like all teams.”
Rollin estimates that it takes from six to eight months for a team to get to know each other to work well together which was demonstrated by the team results at the end of the year. “We showed it in Ireland, there was 5 of us and we managed to control the race. In Missouri, the guys did a great job. There is always an adaptation time with any team.”
Rollin unsuccessfully tried to defend his jersey at the 2007 Canadian National Championship in the road race which had a much smaller field than usual as it was held on a weekday. “This year there were only around fifty riders which makes a much tighter peloton. I found myself isolated with all the Quebecois watching me because I was the defending champion. It’s always more pressure when you’re the defending champion.”
Rollin represented Canada in the World Championship road race in Stuttgart, Germany in September but had to pull out of the race when he cracked. “I didn’t bring my own nutrition to the World Championship because my team didn’t have any so I took whatever the National Team had, and it was different than what I’m used to. So I didn’t eat enough and with two laps to go, I find myself dehydrated, with a headache and I bonked. I think I could have done at least one more lap if I had eaten correctly, I was able to follow the field, but…”
Looking forwards to this season
In September 2007, the Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team announced that it was stopping operations, but even Rollin was already looking to go elsewhere. “There was Symmetrics that had been sending me a few offers, they’ve been after me for two years but looking at the organizational structure, I preferred to go with Toyota.”
Toyota-United has not contacted Rollin because “they thought I was comfortable at Kodak so they didn’t approach me. But knowing that I was free, they absolutely wanted me on the team. So far I’ve received only compliments, I’m happy.”
Rollin sees himself as a domestique, as first and foremost he wants to help the team win races and where possible carve a place for himself. “I can bring 2 or 3 horses more to help Ivan (Dominguez) get a win or I think Hilton Clarke who is also new, a good sprinter.”
“I arrive in a well-tuned structure, it’s completely different than last year with Kodak where I didn’t know what to expect. Toyota is known for its leaders, it’s a strong team.”
Rollin joined his teammates for a two-week training camp in Solvang California, and he expects the integration into the new team to be easy. “The guys are pretty open. I think I might have a bit more difficulty than the three Australians because they all knew each other, I’m a bit less known because I was new to the circuit last year but I don’t think I’ll have any problems. I get along with the guys, it’s going to be fine.”
“You have 2 weeks of training camp to learn how to ride together and I think it’s going to be fine because the majority of the team is the same and they have been working together for 2 or 3 years.”
Rollin’s schedule was not set when we met, but two races are already in his calendar, the Amgen Tour of California in February, for which he has been training for the past two months.
Staying in California until the end of April will maximize his training period for the year, as he learned the hard way the previous year. “Last year, I made the mistake, my team insisted that I return home. Before Redlands, I was stuck in a snowstorm. I returned to Redlands, with jetlag, and one week of rollers, well it didn’t work well.”
The Canadian Championships are on the calendar in early July, as Rollin would like to wear the Maple Leaf once more. Rollin is focused on the Olympic Games as he has been named in the selection pool. “I think that we are still 17 in the selection pool which is huge, especially since about half can’t race past 200 km in that group. It’s completely different,”
Rollin hopes that the selection for the Olympics will be made as late as possible, in May or June, as he typically has good form during that period. “They make their selection closer to the Olympics, races like Philly, races somewhat similar (to the Olympic course), where all the Canadians are present is a good race to make the choice.”
Rollin loves the hard one-day races but is starting to appreciate the stage races, as he discovered in the previous year. “I was a bit dreading stage races because I cracked on the last day, or it was very difficult. My reference has always been Tour de Beauce, and it’s always been until this year somewhat of a failure for me.” laughed Rollin.
Working with his coach Brian Walton on his endurance helped Rollin gain a certain maturity, and it payed off. “In the Tour of Ireland I was getting stronger every day. I think I was the only rider getting stronger every day.”
No decisions have been made about returning to Europe in the future, and no decisions will be taken until the year with Toyota unfolds. “The American circuit is getting to be more and more interesting with the addition of Tour of Missouri, the return of Tour of Utah, Tour of Colorado new in 2008.”
Rollin loves to cook, a skill he refined while living in France, and when I asked him if there would be a competition with Toyota-United’s Ivan Stevic who also loves to cook, his answer was “Bring it on”.
“Bring it on” summarizes Rollin approach to this year, as he tackles the domestic circuit with the experience garnered on roads over Europe and North America.