Interview: KOM Winner Roland Green
One surprising face to make a splash early this season is Canada’s Roland Green. Surprising not because he won the KOM jersey at the Tour of Langkawi, but more so because he’s a pro mountain biker during the regular season. We caught up with Roland at his home in Victoria, BC upon his return from Malaysia.
1. The big news is your great race at Langkawi, finishing 4th, while falling victim to some bad luck with the flat tire that kept you out of the Leader’s jersey. It’s unusual to see Canadian riders doing so well on the road, especially when racing against bigger, better funded teams. What have you done to gain such great form right now, and did you go to Langkawi to do this well?
RG – I always race with the possibility of winning in the back of my mind. But after many bike races I’m quite in tune with my body to know when that’s possible. The beauty of road racing are the factors of chance and tactics. Langkawi was a very straight forward race for the overall. It was one hard climb on the 9th stage. So I planned around that and had excellent support till then from the National team. I can’t say enough about those guys. Gord Fraser led the team on the road and everyone believed in me for the climbing stages. They kept me sheltered, fed and relaxed till then. Barring the flat tire we would have been looking at a minimum of 2nd on G.C and possibly the win. It was very exciting.
2. You wore the Climber’s jersey for most of the race. Can you take us through your ascent of the Genting Highlands? Describe the climb itself, how you performed on it, and were there any surprises on the climb?
RG – It was a relatively short stage with the base of the climb starting at around 120km. It is very gradual at first and so the draft is a factor. The teams are able to keep their weaker riders at the front for support and some attacking. It gradually increases and becomes very steep in the last 5-6kms. I felt good on the day and was very aggressive. Being 40th on G.C going into the stage I had to put time on all riders that were around me. My goal in Langkawi was to place as high as possible on G.C and collect those valuable uci points for Canada. I did succeed in eliminating the race to myself and two other riders (Munoz and Danielson). With 2 km to go it was too much for me and I was dropped.
3. You’ve had a lot of success racing off-road, and you mentioned that your plan for now is to continue focusing on mtb racing. Longer term, do you see yourself following the footsteps of racers like Cadel Evans, and making the move to the road full time? As a result of your success in Malaysia, have you been approached by any of the road team with offers?
RG – I have been approached and have thought seriously about these opportunities. The hardest part of this is that the world of cycling doesn’t know how great mountain biking is. I dont want to give up something so fun and so pure. I will stay with mountain biking until Athens and then I will evaluate. I hope it makes a huge comeback. And I hope I can have a hand in that.
4. Describe the racing conditions in Malaysia – were these a factor in the overall outcome of the race?
RG – It was extremely hot in comparison to home (Victoria, British Columbia). Fortunately for me I have no problem in the heat and so I felt fine. So for myself I would say it was a factor and a benefit at that.
5. How did the Canadians function as a team in Malaysia, especially since as a national squad, you don’t have the luxury of riding together on a full-time basis?
RG – We had excellent leadership from our director Kris Westwood. He has raced himself and he’s quite good at thinking on his feet. Once we were on the road Gord Fraser’s experience was invaluable. Bruno Langlois and Alex Lavalee worked their asses off fetching bottles (and with only 2 weeks of riding in their legs this was amazing in itself). The team was drumming up some pretty strong national pride. My sock sponsor Sockguy even sent us all maple leaf socks which we reserved for the hardest days.
6. You mentioned in a recent interview that some people consider you too big to be a climber – how tall are you and how much do you weigh?
RG – I am 5’11”, and 165 pounds. If I was a road rider I would lose about 3-4lbs and that would help my climbing but…… have you ever seen those insects with the crane like arms and the big heads? .. amazing they can support themselves.
7. What’s your racing program like for the rest of the year, and are the World’s in Hamilton one of your goals?
RG – My goals are in no particular order. World Cups, Norbas, World Championships, and then Hamilton itt. The road race has been also an idea but if I look at the season realistically… well its not good timing. But I will make a huge effort to find my best form for Hamilton.
8. Aside form the racing, what was a “memorable” moment from Langkawi?
RG – Meeting a taxidriver named Ken. Only a select few others will know why but I had a great time there. Malaysian people are very kind and have a good view on life. I never heard one horn honk the whole time.
Roland – thanks for talking with us and good luck this season – we’ll look for you in Hamilton!