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Pierre Rolland (Europcar) in the group of favorites
Frenchman doesn't want "rotten apples in the tree"
Pierre Rolland knows what it's like to have win atop l'Alpe d'Huez in the Tour de France. It's a feat he achieved in 2011 against eventual polka-dot jersey winner Samuel Sanchez. That year he finished 10th overall and won the young rider classification but some suggest he could have placed higher if not for his loyal support of Europcar teammate Thomas Voeckler who led the race for 10 days. A stage win and 8th overall in the 2012 Tour was an improvement but the Frenchman is already dreaming of 2013.
"It is a beautiful route," Rolland told l'Equipe. "There are plenty of mythical things, it's full of beautiful summit finishes. It inspires me a lot. I appreciate the fact that there is less against the clock."
"I dream. It will take a lot of hard work before setting a goal. It is still too early to state. I already want to do better this year."
Rolland already has his name on bend number 16 of l'Alpe however the Europcar rider will no doubt be gunning to become only the 6th rider - not including Lance Armstrong who has been stripped of his Tour wins in 2001 and 2004 - to have his name featured more than once on the signs that are placed on each of the 21 hairpins.
"I look at the map, I see Mont Ventoux and I have beautiful images that come immediately to mind, I see the Alpe d'Huez and I imagine the world will be there, it will be great. The story is written on monuments and there are plenty of monuments to make it a good 100th edition."
Regaining trust in the sport
The 26-year-old was asked by l'Eqiupe to comment on the case surrounding Armstrong and doping at US Postal and believes "all those involved in doping should go."
"There should no longer be rotten apples in the tree. The people named in these cases, we should not see them on the bike anywhere. Our sport is credible. It was perhaps not the case ten years ago. We are on a good track. It is impossible for cheaters to escape, controls are everywhere, all the time and at home. The guy who cheats today is crazy."