Rolland to skip Giro and focus on Tour de France in 2015

Doubling up is too hard, admits Frenchman

Pierre Rolland (Europcar) has confirmed that he will focus on the Tour de France in 2015 and skip the Giro d'Italia, where he finished fourth overall this season.

The Frenchman went on to finish 11th overall at the Tour and felt that his exertions in Italy had extracted a significant toll and compromised his performance in July. With the route of the 2015 Tour weighted heavily in favour of climbers, Rolland has decided to concentrate exclusively on La Grande Boucle.

"I would never have dared to dream of a course like that, I love it!" Rolland told L'Équipe. "If you're three minutes down on the morning of the Alpe-d'Huez stage [on the penultimate day – ed.] you still have a chance of winning."

The prospect of doubling up again at the Giro and Tour, Rolland said, was one that he never seriously considered. "Particularly when you aim for the GC both times, it's too hard. Even the big riders are ducking out of it," he said.

Rolland was tipped by some in France as a potential winner of the Tour when he won the title of best young rider in 2011 and at 28 years of age, his career can no longer be framed primarily in the future tense. "It seems difficult to me, but I am coming into my best years," he said. "It’s now or never."

Rolland was overshadowed at this year's Tour by the podium finishes of Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), although he feels that his performances in 2011 and 2012 had been something of a watershed moment for his fellow Frenchmen.

"By winning at Alpe d'Huez and at La Toussuire, I think that I set the tone and showed the way for the new generation," said Rolland who had praise for Pinot's Tour but was more circumspect in his critique of Péraud's display, complaining of a lack of collaboration in an attack on stage 2 to Sheffield.

"Péraud, he's not my type," Rolland said. "That said, second in the Tour at 37 years of age, that creates healthy competition. Certain people are going to say to themselves 'If he can do it, I can do it too.'"

The Europcar team is still waiting on ratification of its WorldTour registration for 2015 after the Licence Commission expressed concern over its budget. More pressingly, Europcar has announced that it will withdraw its sponsorship at the end of 2015. If a replacement isn't found quickly, Rolland hinted that he would start talks with other teams rather than tether his future to Jean-René Bernaudeau's plans, as he did when Bouygues Telecom pulled out in 2010.

"I'm waiting for Jean-René [Bernaudeau] to update me… I won't be as patient as the last time," Rolland said.

L'Équipe reports that Rolland will start his season at the GP de la Marseillaise on February 1 and will ride Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, the Ardennes Classics and the Dauphiné as he builds towards the Tour.

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