Rollin spent three years at FDJ but found himself without a spot on the roster at the end of 2013. The Canadian was unable to secure a contract with a WorldTour team and spent last season out of the sport. However he remained in Girona, Spain for long periods of time, and trained throughout the year.
When Cofidis were putting together new signing Nacer Bouhanni’s lead-out train they approached Rollin and the Quebec-born rider jumped at the opportunity to re-join the professional peloton. According to Rollin, who will race alongside Bouhanni at the Tour of Qatar, the move to Cofidis has given him a new purpose.
“It’s the same old but there’s been a bit of a more relaxed view. I’m enjoying it again and I’m happy to be here with a purpose. That’s what was missing in the last few years. I’d show up for races and I’d have no focus, no plan whatsoever. The team would be ‘we’re here, we’ll just race.’ There was no organisation around the race or desire to take the race up to our speed,” Rollin told Cyclingnews as he prepared for a training ride in Qatar.
“It’s also about racing with a purpose, a goal in every race, and not just being an extra number in the race like so many of these teams are. That gives me a job to do and it pushes me to go further,” he added.
Both Bouhanni and Rollin rode for FDJ, with the Frenchman leaving at the tail end of last year after not receiving the opportunities he felt he deserved in major races. Qatar will see Cofidis’ new signings line up against their old team FDJ’s favoured sprinter, Arnaud Démare. Debate over the rivalry between Bouhanni and Démare has raged over the past year, but Rollin asserts that there’s more to Qatar than just the two French sprinters, with Marcel Kittel and a host of other sprinters set to take part.
“Everyone asks that question but I think it’s a bit of an annoying question because there’s more than just one sprinter in the peloton. We’re here to race and place Nacer in the best position against the other sprinters, not only Démare, who doesn’t have a team around him, just one guy to help him.”
Rollin added that Marc Madiot, and the rest of the FDJ management had so far lacked the organisational skills to organise a lead-out.
“Hopefully seeing us together will help them get their sprints together and actually form a team but that’s not how Marc Madiot works, so this is why Nacer left. Here we’re looking at other sprinters and there’s a whole bunch of them.”
However, Rollin added that he had been left frustrated several times during this three-year stay at FDJ. He pointed to the mentality of the management of the team as one of the principal reasons for stagnation and a loss in direction.
“At certain times it was frustrating. Some of the management, they’re just lingering around. They’re just former cyclists who want to be around races and it’s deceiving and it’s sad to see that they’ve not stepped off the bike. They’re still there and if they could wear the helmets in the car they would. They’d pin on numbers to the back of their t-shirts and drive the car. It’s sad to see and that’s what’s slowing down certain teams. Being here I’ve moved on and I didn’t want to be in that position anymore. Now I have the last opportunity and I’ll make the most of it.”
Qatar marks Rollin’s second race in Cofidis colours, after he took part in the Challenge Mallorca last week. The aim in the Middle East is to help Bouhanni claim his first win of the season.
“Now we have a good group of guys and we have goal. That gives us motivation and it’s good to be around Nacer. It’s the best compliment they could have paid me, to ask me to come back to cycling,” he said.
“The objective here is to see him raise his hands, for sure. That’s the first achievement [to aim for] so hopefully if we get a win this week, that would be perfect.”