Happy 26th birthday: Šťastný dvacátýšesté narozeniny
As Roman is gunning for top spot in the Giro, I suspect that any birthday celebrations will be put on hold until the end of May. He’s had a good start to the 2012 season, having settled into his role as one of the team leaders at Astana, but he’ll be looking to improve on last year’s showing at the Giro, where he placed fifth overall and won best young rider.
What you might not realise is that young Roman Jr is a chip off the old block. His father, Roman Sr, enjoyed a fine career riding in the Czech amateur ranks collecting titles both as a junior – world cyclo-cross champion 1983 – and senior – 1991 national road race champion. He also won the Tour of Austria in 1991 and turned professional the following year with Italbonifica-Navigare.
The die was cast and young Roman has followed in his footsteps with a fine career which started with him winning the 2004 Junior Road World Championship. He turned professional in 2006 and donned the lime green of Liquigas for five years until, finding race leadership opportunities limited, he moved last season to wear the turquoise of Astana.
Roman’s a gifted all-rounder with a growing reputation in Grand Tours and wins in the Tour de Suisse (2008), Tour de Romandie (2009) and Giro di Sardegna (2010) gracing his palmares. Surprisingly for someone who lives in Italy and speaks fluent Italian, last year was his first Giro. But with both Ivan Basso [is Kitty swooning again at the mention of his name? – Ed] and Vincenzo Nibali on Liquigas’ team, opportunities to lead a Grand Tour team were practically impossible to come by.
After yesterday’s stage one time trial, where he finished ahead of his main rivals for the overall (he finished three seconds ahead of Basso and 40 ahead of Michele Scarponi) , he’ll be looking to stay out of trouble on the subsequent, possibly windy, Danish stages before heading back to Italy for Wednesday’s team time-trial in Verona.
Roman doesn’t live far from Verona, so he’s familiar with the narrow roads that make up the parcours and he’ll be looking to lengthen the time gaps he has on the other contenders for the pink pullover. Here he is displaying his mastery of English discussing the time trial and showing off his Specialized stealth machine – serious bike bling:
Of course, the Giro won’t be won in Verona but you can bet at least one team will lose enough time to put its leader out of contention!
Whatever happens over the coming couple of weeks, I think we can expect that Roman will be having a belated birthday celebration at his favourite restaurant.
One of us at VeloVoices has a small wager on Roman. [That would be Tim – Ed.] We’ll be hoping he climbs atop the podium so that we’ll have sufficient funds to re-stock the VeloVoices drinks trolley, which has taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks. Rest assured we’ll be raising a glass of my favourite beverage tomorrow [that would be champagne – Ed] and wishing Roman all the best in the coming weeks.