Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview with Dominique Rollin and his coach, Brian Walton

Note: Dominique Rollin is a multi-time Canadian national champion and professional cyclist for Cervelo Test Team Professional Cycling Team. Dominique had an outstanding 2008 season during which he won Stage 4 of the Tour of California, took home the overall points leader jersey at the AToC, and won numerous NRC events in the United States. His impressive 2008 palmares landed him a spot on one of Europe's top road teams for 2009. His coach, Brian Walton, was likewise a multi-time Canadian national champion and was a silver medalist in the 1996 Olympic games (points race). Brian has been coaching Dom (reverently refered to as "the Horse from the North") since 2007.

5 Questions for coach Brian Walton and rider Dominique Rollin:

1. Now that you have moved from a top level North American team to Cervelo Test Team, one of the top teams in Europe, what is your role and responsibility on the team?
• DR-"Well it changes from race to race depending upon which race I am doing. This year is all about learning. Learning the courses, learning from Thor and Carlos, learning from our Director Sportif's, tactics and where I fit in but I will have my chances!"
• BW-"My job as the coach is to have him ready for when the team tells me! And an important aspect of Dom's role will be being a domestic or team helper during the races. Sacrificing himself for the team and team leader. Dom will play a very important part of Thor Hushov's lead-out."

2. What are your early season goals?
• DR-"Stay upright, learn, finish the early season healthy and do well at Paris Roubaix!"
• BW- "In his first year the early season goal is the classics and Paris-Roubaix. Dom is built mentally and physically for PR and the Spring Classics. Coaching is not just about the numbers, especially in his first year. It's about helping the athlete at adapting to a new environment on the bike, within the team, and off the bike in Europe."

3. How was the start to the European Classic Season for you?
• DR-"Man it was tough but I loved it! My first Classic was the old "Het Volk" in Gent, Belgium and Thor won the race! I flatted with 60km to go and it was really the end of the day for me. The next day we had another 200km classic, Kurnne-Brussels-Kurnne. I felt good even after the race the day before. My pack positioning or placing ok, not the greatest. I lost my concentration for a couple of minutes and ended up at the back and out of contention. I need to work on staying calm while fighting for position. I get shoved too easily. I missed the front group because of that and not because I couldn't be up there, got slowed down by other riders and couldn't bridge after the Kwaremount!"
• BW-"For me it was a great start to the season for Dom. He is where he should be physically at this point in time. He has not done the racing that he did last year at this time but then again his goal race is a little further into the season. He made a few rookie tactical mistakes in Belgium but Dom is very smart and will only make these mistakes once!"

4. How is it different than the Tour of California?
• DR-"Tour of California was ugly this year, rain and cold for the first half of the stage race! Last year I had my best day on the bike as a pro when I won Stage Four and attacked George Hincapie at the end of the long stage. This year I was strong but it was my first race of the year. I was there to help Thor and we did that when he won Stage 5. This year the stage race was all about preparation for Europe."
• BW-"As Dom said this was his first race of the year this year. Last year I had Dom go to Mexico for a week long stage race and also a couple of road races in California before ToC. It was his goal of the year. To showcase his talents in front of the top teams in the world. He pulled it off perfectly! A stage win and the green sprinters jersey! This year, learn, stay healthy, and use the hard stage race as a solid training foundation for the early European season."

5. What is a typical training week during the Classics?
• DR-"I'll leave that one to the coach. He tells me what to do! I give him feedback if I have not recovered from the racing and traveling or if I am feeling run down. I may change a recovery day here or there or lessen the miles if something comes up but for the most part, what he says goes!"
• BW-"That's what I like to hear! Dom is very coachable and not because he listens to me. He is a very smart guy and the training feedback he gives me is invaluable. We are a great team and I could not build a training program without his knowledge and support. As for a typical training week during the classics season…Man it's tough! This is where I earn my keep. Race, rest, recover and still fit in true workouts…It's crazy and we are constantly tweaking the training. A quote I like to use is "Less is More" and this is especially true when an athlete finishes an 8 day stage race, travels back to Europe and then has two races the following weekend. Sometimes you need to throw tradition out the window. Dom's heart rate may come back to resting rate and I may give him a couple of intervals after three days but if he can not get his heart rate and wattage up into the correct zones Dom has the green light to shut it down."

Next up for Dominique Rollin on Saturday March 7th is the 190km classic in Italy, Eroica. With over 50km of dirt and gravel…on his Cervelo S2 road bike.

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