Pierre Rolland (Europcar) risks missing out on Paris-Nice due to a knee injury sustained at last week’s Tour de Haut Var. The Frenchman banged his knee against his stem when his chain slipped and the seemingly banal incident may cost him participation in the Race to the Sun, which gets underway on Sunday.
“I had never had problems with my knees before, but so be it, that doesn’t mean much,” a frustrated Rolland told L’Équipe.
Rolland spent over a week off the bike after the Tour du Haut Var, and his first tentative return to the saddle came on the turbo trainer. “I felt a niggle on the rollers, but it was nothing compared to the pain I felt from the vibrations on the road,” he said.
A scan on Friday revealed a minor lesion on the cartilage of his right patella. After resting for the weekend, Rolland returned to the road on Monday, but admitted that he was still struggling with the injury. He withdrew from Wednesday’s Le Samyn race, and will make a decision on his participation in Paris-Nice after a training ride this afternoon.
“Paris-Nice is five hours a day, and after a full hour of training, the pain came back,” Rolland explained. “It worries me a little because after ten days, even with rest and physiotherapy sessions, it hasn’t gone away.
“[Paris-Nice is] the hardest race physically and mentally, with two days of echelons, violent efforts in the cold and a peloton where everybody is in good condition.”
Rolland is adamant that he will not line up at Paris-Nice if it means he risks compromising the remainder of his season. After winning the best young rider’s jersey at the Tour de France last year, the Frenchman will again aim to shine in July.
“Together with the management, we’ll take a decision on Wednesday,” he explained. “I’m still hoping in an improvement, but if that’s not the case, there’s no question of insisting. It’s unthinkable that I would ride if I’m still injured.”