Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is set to ride the Tour de Langkawi rather than Paris-Nice next season as part of his preparation for the 2013 Tour de France. Rolland last competed in Langkawi in 2011, finishing 11th overall, and he believes the Malaysian race offers a unique challenge so early in the season.
“It’s ten days long and the weather is good,” Rolland told Velochrono.fr. “I did it two years ago and it went very well.”
The Tour de Langkawi takes place from February 21 to March 2.
Rolland’s decision to forgo Paris-Nice was also informed by his experiences in 2012, when a knee injury forced him to miss the Race to the Sun. “I realised that it was more of a positive than a negative [to miss Paris-Nice] so that’s why I’ve made this choice,” he said.
Although Rolland won another Tour stage in 2012 and was the highest-placed Frenchman on general classification, finishing 8th, he has had a significantly quieter winter than he did last year in the wake of his victory atop Alpe d’Huez. The emergence of the precocious Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) has helped to temper the media demands placed on Rolland, and the 26-year-old has no complaints.
“Last year, I didn’t have a week without a journalist at my house or something to do. This is a calm winter. I can spend time with my family and above all, I can train well,” Rolland said, adding that he thinks he is having “a slightly quieter winter” than Pinot.
Rolland will begin his 2013 season at Étoile des Bessèges, before tackling the Tour Mediterranéen and Tour de Langkawi. The main objectives of his spring will be Critérium International, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de Romandie.
As ever, the Tour de France will be the centrepiece of Rolland’s campaign, but he is also aiming to extend his season to late September so that he can play an important role in the French team at the world championships in Florence.
“I would have loved to have gone to the Worlds this year but I didn’t manage my post-Tour very well. Next year, I’ll take a long break so I can be better rested and fresher, with the aim of being selected for the French team.”