Rolland to target stages in Giro d'Italia, Tour de France in 2017

Cannondale-Drapac rider abandons general classification ambitions

Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) has decided to set aside his ambitions for Grand Tour overall classifications, and only target stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2017, according to France Bleu.

Rolland was tipped as his country's main hopeful to be the first native winner of the Tour de France since Bernard Hinault when he won the best young rider classification in 2011 and then made the top 10 the following year. He also claimed the stage win atop Alpe d'Huez and in 2012 at La Toussuire - Les Sybelles.

He was on track for a strong overall result in the Tour de France this year until a crash on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde during stage 8. He suffered another high-speed crash on stage 19.

A fourth place overall in the Giro d'Italia in 2014 could remain his best Grand Tour finish now that he has decided to fight for stage victories and leave his overall race ambitions behind.

"I made the choice in 2014 to race the Giro and Tour. I will do it again in 2017, surely with a new direction," Rolland told France Bleu in his home department of Loiret. "I really want to focus 100 per cent on the stages and leave out the general classification, which took a lot of energy to get results and did not necessarily suit me.

"When one targets the GC, one is obliged to be a follower," he said. "We try to finish closest to the leader every time. When one races only for the stages, one can afford to do one day flat out, then two or three quiet days and then start again."

Rolland made an appearance at the regional cyclo-cross championships in Charlemagne Island, which was organised by his first cycling club, Cercle Gambetta Orléans Loiret.

The first Cannondale-Drapac team camp begins next week in Spain, but Rolland already has some of his 2017 calendar planned out. His first WorldTour event will be Paris-Nice, which passes through his home department, in March.

"I am happy to race Paris-Nice and especially to spend at least one day of the year in Loiret," Rolland said. "But paradoxically, this is really not a course that will suit me."

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