February 1, 2006 — Hayden Roulston of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has been hot during his Southern Hemisphere summer. He started his 2006 season by winning three stages and the overall title of the Tour of the Vineyards in his native New Zealand. Then after 10 days of pounding the pavement in Southern California during team training camp, he returned home along with teammate Greg Henderson to compete in the five-day, seven-stage Trust House Classic (Tour of Wellington). If anything, he looked even stronger. Riding with Henderson on a composite team, Roulston convincingly won three stages and the overall, while showing that he had enough juice left in the final stage to not only defend his overall lead, but deliver Henderson to the final 200 meters for a sprint victory.
“I set (this race) as a goal a short while ago and to achieve it is one big thing,” Roulston told Cycling News. “My team rode like legends all week.
“I was really tired after flying in from Los Angeles the night before the race started but once the form came, I felt great,” he added. “I’m still improving and am confident I’ll be right for the (Amgen Tour of California).”
Henderson had a strong race, as well, finishing third in the opening stage, and crediting Roulston for his textbook lead-out to win the final stage by a bike length. “I tried to look after my legs and had a great lead-out from Hayden,” Henderson said.
Roulston’s three stage wins came in three different types of stages, in three different types of conditions. Stage 3 was a flat, fast and cool evening criterium, while his Stage 5 win, which vaulted him from third overall into the leader’s yellow jersey, came on a sweltering day that ended with a twisting 9 km ascent up Admiral Hill. Roulston won the stage with the help of teammate Jeremy Vennell, who set such a hard pace that race leader Tim Gudsell cracked on the final climb. Roulston finished 1:16 ahead of Gudsell on the stage, while Vennell still held on for third after all his work.
The next morning, Roulston turned his :51 lead on GC into an insurmountable 1:30 by scorching the 12Km Scorching Bay Time Trial in cool coastal fog, winning Stage 6 by :29 seconds over teammate Vennell despite the short course.
From there, he and his teammates had only to make sure no dangerous breaks went away that afternoon in the criterium finale to ensure overall victory.
Roulston and Henderson will next compete for Health Net Presented by Maxxis at the Amgen Tour of California, February 19-26. Following that, they will both represent New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games.