Bob Roll

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Bob Roll
Bob Roll at the 2003 Tour of Hope in Washington, D.C.
Personal information
Born (1960-07-07) 7 July 1960 (age 63)
Oakland, California, United States of America
Team information
Professional teams

Bob "Bobke" Roll (born July 7, 1960) is an American former professional cyclist, author, and television sports commentator. He was a member of the 7-Eleven until 1990 and competed for the Motorola in 1991. In 1992 Roll moved to Greg LeMond's Z team and added mountain biking to his racing accomplishments. Roll continued racing mountain bikes professionally through 1998. Roll is known in the cycling world, and to his global cable television fans, as "Bobke".

He has written Bobke: A Ride on the Wild Side of Cycling, Bobke II, and two Tour de France Companion volumes. ("Bobke" is Southern Dutch for "Bobby".) He has also had many columns published in VeloNews. He is credited with suggesting that Joe Parkin, professional cyclist and author, move to Europe and wrote the foreword for Joe's first book.[1]

Cycling career[edit]

Roll started cycling in 1981 in his home region of Northern California. He spent two years in the States racing before heading to Belgium to race. After a furthur two years he became a professional cyclist for 7-Eleven, his first race was the 1985 Giro d'Italia.[2] During the 1988 Giro d'Italia Roll's job as a domestique pushed him to the limit, causing him to pass out at the finish and his heart to stop beating.[3]

In 1998 a young Lance Armstrong, continuing to recover from testicular cancer remediation, had recently dropped out of the Paris–Nice cycling race. Armstrong's training coach, Chris Carmichael, invited Roll to journey to Boone, North Carolina, to talk with Lance and do training rides with the young Armstrong for several days.[4][5] Armstrong was extremely discouraged by his recent European cycling results, and Carmichael believed Armstrong had lost his career focus and was on the verge of fully retiring from professional cycling. Almost out of desperation, Carmichael talked Armstrong into doing one last series of intensive training rides, with Roll as his riding partner.

According to Roll, "I am sure Lance had probably never met a bike racer like me...a person who could still find some joy and happiness in such weather misery. We had eight hours a day, for eight straight days, of continuous riding in the pouring rain - rain in Biblical proportions! I think Lance would've turned things around even without our talks and rides in the Appalachia[n]s, but it turned out to be a pivotal career event for him (and Roll had made a new cycling friend)." A refocused and encouraged Armstrong went on to a successful fourth-place finish in the Vuelta a España, and within a year and a half he had won his first yellow jersey overall victory in the Tour de France road race. Armstrong has since had his yellow jersey wins nullified due to doping. (Roll's tale of the ride is in Bobke II;[6] Armstrong's is in It's Not About the Bike.[7])

Post cycling[edit]

Roll continues to enjoy riding road and mountain bicycles for recreation, and is a member of the veteran cable television broadcasting team (along with Phil Liggett, MBE and the late Paul Sherwen) who serve as road cycling expert-commentators for the NBC Sports Network cable network's coverage of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Giro d'Italia, Paris–Roubaix, Tour of California, and other international cycling road races.[8]

Roll has appeared in a series of Road ID Tour de France television commercials as himself, riding a bus along with "Tour Mania" (a costumed-disguised rowdy faux rock group played by well-known professional cyclists, such as George Hincapie).

Major results[edit]

Bob Roll wins stage 1985 Coors Devils Cup Mt Diablo.


10th Overall Coors Classic
1st Stage 9
1st Stage 3 Rocky Mountains Classic
1st Stage 3 Vuelta de Baja California
1st Stage 3 (TTT) Redlands Bicycle Classic
1st Affoltern am Albis Criterium
6th Eschborn–Frankfurt
7th Overall Milk Race
8th Tour du Nord-Ouest
1st Stage 3 Tour de Romandie
1st Stage 2 Tucson Bicycle Classic
5th Overall Tour of the Adirondacks
1st San Francisco Hill Climb
1st San Francisco Hill Climb

Grand Tour general classification results timeline[edit]

Grand Tour 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
Vuelta a España
Giro d'Italia 78 61 114
Tour de France 63 DNF 132
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish


  • Roll, Bob (1995). Bobke: A Ride on the Wild Side of Cycling. Boulder, Colo.: Velo Press. ISBN 1-884737-12-9. OCLC 41853737.
  • Roll, Bob; Roll, Bob (2003). Bobke II. Boulder, Colo.: VeloPress. ISBN 978-1-931382-28-1. OCLC 53097074.
  • Roll, Bob; Koeppel, Dan (2005). The Tour de France Companion 2005: A Nuts, Bolts & Spokes Guide to the Greatest Race in the World. New York: Workman ; Godalming : Melia [distributor]. ISBN 978-0-7611-3798-6. OCLC 58053518.


  1. ^ Joe Parkin (2008). A Dog in a Hat. VeloPress.
  2. ^ Maestas, Amy. "The Durango Telegraph". Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  3. ^ "Former bike racer Bob Roll rolls into TV career with offbeat wit". The Mercury News. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  4. ^ "Coach Remembers When Armstrong Almost Quit". Associated Press. 2005-07-25. Archived from the original on 2006-05-23.
  5. ^ Litsky, Frank (1999-08-01). "CYCLING; Finding His Missing Desire in the Mountains". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-04. Armstrong needed a training partner. When Carmichael suggested Roll, Armstrong said, "That's perfect." And when Armstrong called Roll, Roll's wife, Chiara, urged her husband to accept. "I think Bob has incredible talent and personality," she said. "He could boost anybody's morale. Bob made Lance remember all the good things about cycling."
  6. ^ "Blog Archive » What About BOB?". MissingSaddle. 2006-05-26. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  7. ^ Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins: It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, Chapter 5, (ISBN 0-425-17961-3), Putnam 2000.
  8. ^ "Bob Roll". NBC Sports Pressbox. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  9. ^ "Bob Roll". Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Bob Roll". Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  11. ^ "Bob Roll". Retrieved 11 August 2023.

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