BEIJING (VN) — Dominique Rollin (FDJ.fr) stood and examined the vastness and emptiness of Tiananmen Square this morning. It was a moment of reflection; without a 2014 contract, he faced what may be his last race in the Tour of Beijing.
“It’s bitter,” Rollin told VeloNews. “I’ve been playing the team card for three years. There have been some rough parts, some health issues. That’s just the life of the athlete, it can’t always go easy. Even in the two months where I finally got my health back together after the Giro, and good communication amongst teammates, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough for the team’s management.”
Despite leading teammate Nacer Bouhanni to two stage wins and second place today outside Beijing National Stadium, the French first division team is not offering the 30-year-old Canadian a contract.
“It’s been two months, and both sprinters are pushing to keep me. Last I heard two weeks ago is that they are not keeping me. They might find an option, but at the moment, the team is full and they are not re-signing me,” Rollin said.
“They didn’t say what for, the reason, but we are seeing that the sprint train is working well, we have confidence amongst each other, but we see the management don’t see it that way. It’s a bit paradoxical and frustrating.”
And like Tiananmen Square, there is not much out there. Four professional teams are closing this year: Euskaltel-Euskadi, Vacansoleil-DCM, Sojasun, and Champion System. Out of those teams, there are still about 70 riders without contracts, and that does not include riders like Rollin.
“It is not comforting seeing the number of riders on the market, it’s a buyers’ market. My agent is knocking on closed doors, no one can give him an answer,” Rollin said. “I know the team will meet this week again, try to find a loophole to take me and fit me in the team but until then I’m on the market.”
Sadness sprinkled Dominique’s words. “If I left now, at least I’d leave on a high,” he said. “I’ve done a good job this week, we made a great impression.”
He knew that when he clipped his shoes into his pedals, he might do so in a race for the last time. Today, he lined up next to Garmin-Sharp’s Steele Von Hoff, said a few words, and then rode off towards the Bird’s Nest stadium. He placed 105th overall.
His French teammates asked him, “What’s next? Will you race as an amateur?”
Rollin is not that desperate.
“I’ll just move on with my life, which is going back to school and heading towards a management degree. That’s my goal in life, something different, a new challenge,” Rollin said. “At the moment, I’m not done with cycling. I know I can still get some more out of it and make gains.”