Three-time winner Hayden Roulston has endorsed the Tour of Southland’s future despite it losing international status.
The International Cycling Union announced last week it would not register the Southland six-day race on its calendar this year, but Roulston – who took line honours in 2006, 2007 and 2008 – believed the tour would not be negatively impacted.
“I think it’s good they don’t have it [international status], to be honest,” Roulston said.
“I mean, what have they gained from having it – apart from a loss of money from the bank account”.
“It could now open up for the likes of Julian Dean, Greg Henderson, Tim Gudsell and myself, which is fantastic for the New Zealand public”.
Under international cycling regulations, the Cantabrian would not have been allowed to ride in the tour because of issues around professional riders competing in non-trade teams.
The HTC Columbia rider confirmed he is hoping to ride this November’s race if he can find a team.
In New Zealand on a short mid-season break, Roulston returns to the European summer in a couple of days to contest the San Sebastian Classic and then the Tour of Denmark.
Other road events beckon before his attention turns to the track and riding with his Olympic bronze medal-winning pursuit team-mates at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.
Despite winning silver at the Beijing Olympics in the individual pursuit, Roulston said he was no longer interested in riding the event now that it had been taken off the Olympic programme.
“I don’t think I’ll ever ride the IP again unless it’s reinstated into the Olympics, there’s no point. The team pursuit is more of a driving force at the moment. I fully believe the boys can produce the goods to win Olympic gold.
“Even though I haven’t been on the track I’ve always said I’ll be in London 100 per cent.”
Roulston said his season had been patchy, including the low point of missing selection for the Tour de France.
Southland James Fairweather, who is living with Roulston in Europe at the moment, had been an important factor in lifting his spirits and being able to enjoy the recent Tour of Austria, Roulston said.
A career in professional cycling was not just about pushing pedals, he said.
“It’s not just taking time to set yourself up again, getting used to living overseas away from your family and friends.
“People don’t realize what a big adjustment it is. You can’t expect to go over there, waltz right in and have instant results.”
Roulston predicted a strong finish to the season, with plenty of confidence for his second year with HTC Columbia.
“I think next year, with a good off season and some real focus, I think you’re going to see some things.”