Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeInterviewsRolf Gölz - A Chat with 'Turbo' about his Career

Rolf Gölz – A Chat with ‘Turbo’ about his Career


With no races on the go we thought we’d give you some of that ‘retro’ stuff – here’s a big name from the ‘80’s. Rolf Gölz says he wasn’t really a track rider but won World and Olympic silver medal in the Individual Pursuit and Worlds gold in the Team Pursuit; he wasn’t a specialist ‘chronoman’ but won the pan-flat and super-fast Firenze-Pistoia TT and the prestigious Trofeo Baracchi two man TT; he wasn’t a climber but won Flèche-Wallonne, conquering the mighty Mur de Huy; he wasn’t a pure sprinter but could get the better of the likes of Etienne De Wilde and Sean Kelly in a sprint.

And he just missed the podium in the Worlds Road Race but did make the podium in Milan-Sanremo.

No wonder they nicknamed him ‘Turbo’. We had the pleasure of a chat with the man from Germany who’s perhaps one of his generation’s most under-rated riders.

Why did they call you ‘Turbo,’ Rolf?

“That came from the days when I was an amateur riding team pursuit, the other guys called me that because I could accelerate so fast.”

You rode for West Germany in your pursuiting days; I saw you take silver behind the late Detlef Macha of East Germany at Leicester in 1982 – how real was the rivalry with the East Germans?

“It was for real, it was a big battle between two different systems – we didn’t communicate with their pursuit riders; relations with their sprinters were better but in the track centre there was no communication.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz was a terrific trackman.

The Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, silver again behind Steve Hegg of the USA, it must have been a disappointment when it was revealed that the US track team there was ‘blood doped?’

“A little bit, there were no East Germans or Russians in LA and I was the favourite in the pursuit but then this guy who we’d never heard of before gets up and does this very impressive time in qualifying.

“When we saw how fast he had gone we knew I couldn’t beat him.”

You turned pro with Del Tongo in 1985 and right away won the Ruta del Sol; a brilliant debut.

“Udo Hempel, the former Olympic Team Pursuit Champion was chief of the Bremen Six Day and wanted me to ride there, I wanted to be in good shape for it so trained hard through the winter and carried that form through into the Ruta.”

I heard that Guiseppe Saronni, the team leader at Del Tongo became a little jealous of your successes?

“Not jealous, in 1985 there were no problems but I was young and enthusiastic and he was coming to the end of his career and he wasn’t training so much.

“We were working for him but he wasn’t getting the successes any more so I didn’t work so hard for him because I knew he wasn’t going to get the result.

“Because of this he kept me out of the Giro team for 1986 – I changed teams for 1987 to Superconfex.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz in the prologue of Tirreno Adriatico in 10989.

I believe you were close to the Polish guys who rode for Del Tongo?

“Czeslaw Lang and Lech Piasecki lived in the same building where I had an apartment, beside Lake Garda and I used to train with them.

“They were good guys and we became friends but my mentor on the team were Rudy Pevenage, who took me under his wing and Frankie Hoste was good with me to, so was Dirk Wayenberg.”

You won the ’85 German Professional Road Race Championship as a first year pro, beating Gregor Braun – he was a big name.

“Yes but he wasn’t in such good shape by that stage of his career – and I was fast in the sprint…”

And the late season Firenze-Pistoia time trial.

“With my pursuiting background I wasn’t a bad time trial rider and that course suited me, very flat and so very, very fast.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz working hard on the front. Photo©Offside

The 1987 season, Superconfex; you were with Jan Raas for four seasons, tell us about it.

“Yes, that was the best time of my career, the team was very ‘open;’ we had big stars like Van Hooydonck, Nijdam and Van Poppel but you were still allowed your freedom if you were going well.

“We had great success in the Classics and took a lot of stage wins.

“Raas was more on the management side, the man who was my DS and who I enjoyed working with was Hillaire Van Der Schueren; he was the man in the team car at a lot of my races.”

[Van Der Schueren is still ‘in the car’ now with those hard racing guys at Wanty, ed.] 

The 1987 World Road Race Championship and you were fourth, a disappointment?


“We were coming in to the finish in a small group and I was watching Teun Van Vliet because he was fast in the sprint; but as I was watching him, Stephen Roche attacked, starting the sprint early, I thought about reacting but didn’t.

“I should have jumped on to him but didn’t, a moment of hesitation, a bad decision, I waited too long and the group behind came up.

“If I’d gone with him then I may have been passed before the line but I’m sure I would have been on the podium.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz during the 1989 Milan-SanRemo.

The 1988 season was huge for you – Tour of Ireland, Tour of Asturias, Paris-Brussels, Milan-Turin, Piemonte… why?

“Yes, I won many races that year, it’s hard to say why, I was in very good condition and began to win early; I wasn’t so great in the summer because I didn’t like the heat but come the late summer and autumn I was winning again.

“I always raced best when the weight of expectation wasn’t placed upon me – there was a good ‘flow’ that year, I just went well from one race to the next.”

And Flèche-Wallonne, not many pursuit specialists have won there

“I wasn’t actually a track rider originally, I was a road man before that as an amateur; I was a member of the team which won the German 100 kilometre TTT for instance.

“I won the national pursuit championships but it was at a time when we didn’t have so many good pursuit riders in Germany so they developed me along that route.

“I had always gone well in the Fleche, I think I was 15th then eighth then third in the years before.

“I was in a little group with the likes Argentin and Rooks (eventual second and third, ed.), they were all watching each other and I chose my moment well, attacking about 10/15 kilometres before the finish.

“I was worried that I would crack on the Mur de Huy but I managed to hold on.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz. Photo©RothFoto

Tell us about your Tour de France stage wins.  

“Those wins are very good memories…

“My first one was at Blagnac in 1987, there had been a lot of attacks but Ludo Peeters told me to wait and I chose my moment.

“I did and I was pretty fast in the sprint.

“The second one was at Nancy in 1988, we had Jelle Nijdam in yellow so I didn’t have to work – I beat Etienne De Wilde to win, coming off his wheel.

“I didn’t enjoy fighting for position but if I was in the right place I was pretty fast in the sprint.

“I liked the smaller stage races in Spain which were up and down all day, my strength was that I could get over the hills the pure sprinters couldn’t.

“And I could handle the Ardennes climbs too.”

You won the Baracchi Trophy with Tom Cordes in 1990, a highly prestigious race at the time.

“I had ridden it before with Lang in 1987 when we were third and had suffered badly but in 1990 I had ridden the Tour of the European Community and came out of it in good shape.

“Tom and I worked well together, when one was having a bad patch, the other worked more – we were a perfect team.

“There was no expectation on us, Raas told us just to go out and ride our race – it was a great experience.” 

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz

In 1991 you joined Ariostea the team of Giancarlo Ferretti, ‘the iron sergeant.’ 

“He was a hard director, he always pushed you; I didn’t ride well under big expectation; it was a bad decision by me to join the team.

“If you’re condition isn’t the best, often it’s best to recuperate then build up your training again – Ferretti just made you race more.

“And I was never good in the heat, he’d have me in races where it was 35 degrees – my motivation just went down and down until eventually I quit.

“I had another year to run on my contract but just said; ‘no.’

“Hillaire Van Der Schueren understood me much better, he’d have seen that I needed to do less and build back up, not do more.”

Which performances give you most satisfaction when you look back?

“The Tour stages for sure; winning the Championship of Zurich in 1987, that was a big World Cup Race back then; the Fleche of course and when I was second to Bugno in Milan-Sanremo, I was just 50 metres behind him but couldn’t quite close the gap.” [Bugno won by four seconds, ed.]

I’m surprised you didn’t ride many Six Days…

“I didn’t like the six days, I preferred to recover in the winter than build up my kilometres training on the road.

“I didn’t mind Grenoble and Munich which came after the road season but I certainly didn’t want to ride Six Days in January.”

Rolf Gölz
Rolf Gölz shows one of his old race bikes outside his shop near Ravensburg. Photo©supplied


“I stopped too early, I still had the talent but my head wasn’t good; my morale was low – I wish had been harder with myself!”

And what do you do now?

“I have a big bike shop in my home town; we sell race bikes but the electric bike market is proving very good for us.” 

With thanks to Rolf for his time and memories; ‘Turbo’ – just the best nickname.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Mike Kluge – Three Times World Cyclocross Champion and the Man Behind Focus Bikes

All you’ll read about for the foreseeable future are Porte, Aru, Uran and Contador – plus others who the press will ‘big up’ to make it seem like someone other than those four can win. But of course, there isn’t. So if you’ll forgive us if we’re going back to a time when our champions didn’t Tweet but had much more worth talking about - Germany's Mike Kluge is our man; quality road rider, triple World Cyclo-Cross Champion, top mountain bike rider and equipment innovator – he’s the man who started Focus bikes in 1992.

Katie Archibald – individual pursuit was the highest of highs for me

VeloVeritas has already spoken to brother John about his men’s individual pursuit silver medal and now it’s time to hear what sister Katie has to say about her Games campaign where there was women’s individual pursuit gold in a Games record, points race silver behind Wales’ Elinor Barker and rides in the women’s scratch – where she finished fourth behind Amy Cure of Australia – and on the road in time trial and road race.

Dan Bigham – “We have no expectations – we are going there to win”

We’ve spoken to Dan Bigham more than once this year, he won eight British Championships this year, against the watch and on the track. But there’s more to Bigham and his KGF team than domestic success; they’ve been riding the UCI World Cup series and in December rode international track meetings in Portugal and Switzerland with strong results.

Roy Schuiten Revisited – ace pursuiter of the ’70’s

We recently ran or tribute to the late, great 'Big Bert' Oosterbosch. It was so well received by our readers that we thought we should re-run a piece from a few years ago which pays tribute to another Dutch chrono and pursuit king - the late, great Roy Schuiten.

John Archibald – “I’d love to show up at the British Championships with a sub 4.20”

John Archibald has proved to us during season 2017 that he’s the fastest man in the country against the watch with fastest rides ever at 10 and 25 miles in Scotland. With a series of quality four kilometre rides in Portugal and Switzerland, Archibald has proved that he can indeed adapt to the boards, bankings and all that time sitting about waiting...

Chloé Dygert Owen – Winning Rainbow Jerseys for Five Years

How long a career do you need to have to win 10 [yes ten] World titles? US ‘chrono girl,’ Chloé Dygert Owen has won that many and she’s still only 23 years-old; and there are two Pan Am golds and an Olympic silver in the dresser drawer too. High times we ‘had a word’ with the young lady out of Indiana.

At Random

Roddy Riddle – Taking on the Marathon des Sables, the 6633 Ultra, and Beyond

We were chatting about the Scottish Hour Record the other day and it got us to thinking about Roddy Riddle’s 1995 ride of 46.570 which broke Graeme Obree’s 1990 ride of 46.390 - and lasted one year until Jim Gladwell established the current best of 46.650 in 1996. ‘What’s Roddy up to now?’ we mused - the last we heard he was running across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables. Transpires he’s participating in the 6633 Ultra. The what? Best ask him...

World Road Championships 2012 – Day Two, the Team Time Trial

I resisted the bars of Valkenburg and was in bed not long after 10:00 on Saturday night. The body clock woke me for 06:15 and I was on the Cauberg before 07:00 for the Team Time Trial.

Stuart Balfour – “For 2018, I’m focused on trying to pull in some big results”

Time for VeloVeritas to catch up with Scottish, David Rayner funded rider, Stuart Balfour. It's been a year since last we spoke to Stuart so a wee bit to catch up on.

Amsterdam Six Day 2014 – Part Two; a Race and Rider Review

Kris maybe summed it up best; 'it felt like a Monday night at any another Six Day.' There was none of the tension or expectation which usually precedes the final chase in a Six. Granted, we weren't looking after riders who were in the mix for the win but it was indeed, 'just another chase.' Maybe it was because it was clear from the start that Terpstra was the strongest man on the track and there was only going to be one winner.

Jack Bauer – He’s Why We Love This Sport!

It was a Saturday night in the summer of 2009 and I was driving ‘up the Town’ to the movies. I pulled the car over, answered the mobile and had my first chat with the man. VeloVeritas's pundit in residence Viktor had spotted this New Zealand laddie who was burning up the Flanders kermis scene in the colours of Anglo/Belgian team, Kingsnorth Wheelers – Jack Bauer.

Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2007

Jason Macintyre (Edge RT) made it a 'double-double' on Sunday morning as he successfully defended his Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2007 with 51:58 on a sunny but airy Irvine by-pass, the win coming just two weeks after he retained his British 25 mile title.