Bbox Bouygues Telecom team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau has never been backwards about coming forwards when it comes to bigging up the ability of the riders in his squad, and J-R has been at it again, insisting that Pierre Rolland can finish in the top 10 at the Tour de France.
Speaking to French paper La République du Centre, Bernaudeau described Rolland as "a rare pearl" and "one of tomorrow’s leaders". Rolland, who only turned 23 last month, finished 22nd on his Tour de France debut in July.
"I’m expecting to be in the mix for the general classification by playing the Pierre Rolland card," said Bernaudeau. "I would love for him to finish in the top 10 in Paris. He would need things to go his way, but he can do it. That’s a real novelty for our team," Bernaudeau added, overlooking similar claims he previously made for Sylvain Chavanel.
"Pierre has shown that he is made for stage races. He’s got an excellent constitution and is made for the Tour de France," Bernaudeau said.
While Rolland is highly rated in France and beyond, it is perhaps no coincidence that Bernaudeau is on the look-out for a new sponsor to replace Bbox at the end of 2010. Having a rider who may be France’s best Tour prospect for some years is not going to harm that objective.
As for Rolland, he’s already been training hard on a fixed wheel bike. Speaking about the 2010 Tour de France route and his prospects, he told the paper: "There is the possibility that there will be echelons in the wind in the opening days and on the pavé… After that, with four stages in the Pyrenees, it will be difficult. The key will be to avoid un jour sans (a day without), because that could end up leaving a bad taste in the mouth." Spoken like a true team leader…
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