Frenchman looking for a stage win in the Alps
Pierre Rolland has admitted he has given up trying to win the polka-dot jersey in this year's Tour de France and instead will target a stage victory in three big stages in the Alps.
Rolland won at the summit of Alpe d'Huez in 2011 and went on to finish eleventh overall. He won the stage to La Toussuire last year and finished eighth overall. However he admitted that wearing the polka-jersey early in the race had damaged his overall chances.
Rolland took the jersey on stage to Ajaccio in Corsica, wearing garish polka-dot shorts in the peloton. Apart from two days mid-race, he stayed in the jersey until the finish to Mont Ventoux. He had tried to join the break of the stage to take more points but failed to catch the move. As revenge, his Team Europcar teammates chased down the break but this allowed Chris Froome to win the stage and so take the lead in the climber's competition. Rolland slipped to fourth behind Nairo Quintana and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) with 53 points.
"It's become a lot more difficult to win it now. But what is certain, is that I won't finish the Tour without having given everything," Rolland told Equipe.
"I don’t want to focus on the jersey because it’ll affect the way I race. From Thursday onwards I'll focus on winning one of the three beautiful mountain stages."
"Taking the jersey in Corsica made me euphoric but it also made me race differently to how I'd wanted to. I was going to ride cautiously but I used up a lot of energy. My coach (Jean Philippe Robert) didn't agree with my choice because we'd been working for the GC all year. But another reason not to go for the overall was that I'd have to ask the guys to ride for me every day even if they weren't sure if they'd keep their jobs. Fortunately that doubt has gone now because Europcar will stay on two more years."
Giving it 1000%
Rolland tried to play down his chances of second win atop Alpe d'Huez, but refused to rule out going for victory.
"Everything is important at the Tour but l'Alpe d'Huez is legendary," he told RMC Sport radio after finishing a lowly 139th in the time trial to Chorges.
"Everyone knows I won there in 2011 and so everyone is expecting me to do it again. There's a 90% chance that I won't win but I'm going to exploit that remaining 10% by giving 1000%."
Rolland also hinted that he is almost certain to stay at Team Europcar in 2014 despite an enticing offer from Astana.
"Thomas Voeckler and I went our best when we still had a year or tow on our contracts, so we're not mercenaries who wake up six months before their contracts end. I could be a good lieutenant for Nibali but I wouldn't have the same close relationship that I have at Team Europcar, where my colleagues are more like friends."
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