Rolland to lead Cannondale at Tour de France

Lawson Craddock will look for opportunities in French Grand Tour debut

Frenchman Pierre Rolland will lead Cannondale Pro Cycling’s general classification hopes at the Tour de France, while newcomer Lawson Craddock will be given leash to seek his own opportunities in his first edition.

"We'll be centering the team around Pierre Rolland, as this back-end loaded Tour de France uniquely suits his diesel-like qualities," Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said in a statement released with today's announcement. "He may not be the most explosive rider, but come the last few days of the Tour de France, he will surprise a few folks. We'll also be helping Lawson Craddock realize his potential in his first Tour, and looking for opportunities to animate the race."

Joining Rolland and Craddock in the team's Tour de France line up will be Matti Breschel, Alex Howes, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Ramunas Navardauskas, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Dylan Van Baarle.

"We go into this race as a hungry mongrel of a team," Vaughters said. "But I'll take that over a poncy, over-fed poodle any day."

Rolland, 29, is in his first season with the Cannondale team. Over his career he’s finished 11th overall in 2014, 10th in 2011 and 2015 and eighth in 2012.

“The Tour is simply the most beautiful cycling test," Rolland said in today's announcement. "It is also one of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the time when I was young, I've always wanted to participate in this event and win stages. I’ve put in many days training, and with the team I have a really good feeling. Truly. I hope for a great performance, from me, from the team. What I'd really like is a new stage victory and to have the best possible overall standing. The competition is very hard, everyone is ready at 100 percent. I know it will be difficult, but I will do my utmost.”

Rolland previously won stages of the race in 2011 and 2012 wile riding for Team Europcar. Craddock, on the other hand, will be looking for his first stage win in his first appearance in the race. The 24-year-old American said dreams of Tour de France glory have inspired his cycling career.

"This race is iconic for a reason, and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I got on two wheels," he said. "I’ve worked really hard over my career to perform to the standards that I know I’m capable of, and to see that work paying off to earn a spot in the biggest race in the world is truly a dream come true. But the easy part was making the team. Now I’ve got to prepare myself to race at a level that I’ve never raced at before and, most importantly, put the team in a chance to succeed."

Cannondale Pro Cycling Tour de France roster: Matti Breschel, Lawson Craddock, Alex Howes, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Ramunas Navardauskas, Pierre Rolland, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Dylan Van Baarle

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