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Pierre Rolland (Europcar)
2011 Tour de France best young rider confident after Dauphiné
Rolland did not score any spectacular result at the Dauphiné, but used the race to gauge his form - and was very satisfied. "It's not easy to express 100 percent of my capabilities in a one-week race. I tried to get into the right breakaways, but I'm often better in the second or third week. All in all, I feel a bit better than last year. I'm more at ease in the mountains and inside the peloton in general. The last Tour de France taught me the importance of positioning. I've also gained more confidence in the descents," the Europcar rider told L'Equipe.
Thanks to his success at last year's race, Rolland has matured into a team leader, a position he shares with Thomas Voeckler. "I've gained a lot of confidence in myself. Moreover, I've come to an age where I can be more of a protected rider within my team. My teammates will be playing towards my advantage."
This also applies to the more experienced Voeckler. "I worked for him in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on the Tour last year, and I know he'll be doing the same for me. If I tell him one morning that I feel good and that I can win, I know he'll help me. He's a smart guy, you can tell by the way he races. He never attacks for nothing," Rolland continued.
Unlike the previous edition, this year's Tour de France will include an increased number of time trial kilometres, for which the climber will prepare by racing the French time trial championships. "It's simple: I'll do the same amount of kilometres against the clock in June as I will in July [counting also the long time trial at the Dauphiné - ed.]. That way, my body will be more used to this kind of effort."
As for the increased pressure since his tenth place at the Tour last year, Rolland taking it in his stride. "Of course there is more pressure, but that's the game. I'm not making an obsession of it. I'm able to put aside quite a lot of things. My career will not stop at the 2012 Tour if ever I have some problem. Within the team, Jean-René (Bernaudeau) is not putting us under pressure - we know what we can do."