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Pierre Rolland (Europcar) on the Pla d'Adet
Europcar rider feeling efforts of Giro-Tour double
Since making his grand tour debut at the 2009 Tour de France, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) has only once started two three-week races in the same season but is on the cusp of two top-ten GC finishes this year.
In 2010, the 27-year-old was 58th overall at the Tour and then withdrew from the Vuelta a España but since then his season has been built around solely around the Tour.
In 2014 Rolland rode the Giro d'Italia for the first time, finishing fourth overall, and although he currently sits tenth overall after 17 stages, he admitted that back-to-back grand tours have left him exhausted.
"In the future, I will have to choose between the Giro and the Tour [for] GC," Rolland said after finishing sixth on stage 17. "If I make it in the top ten in the Giro and the Tour, it will still be a great performance. The last one, I think, was Contador in 2010. For me at least this is great."
Rolland has won two summit finishes at the Tour and is on track to add to his two top ten GC finishes of 2011 and 2012 which saw him labelled as the next big thing in French cycling as he also won the best young rider's white jersey in 2011.
Since 2012, Rolland has seen riders such as Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) emerge as future Tour winners and as a result has faced less pressure for a high overall finish in Paris.
The improvement needed for Rolland to go from tenth to a podium place, as he explained, would be a lighter race schedule prior to July and he expects to revert back to one grand tour in 2015.
"I'm there but I lack that little something that makes the difference between 4th, 5th, 6th or winner," he said. "The little freshness that would have allowed me to follow [Giovanni] Visconti and [Rafal] Majka, the sharpness in the accelerations [to the finish at Pla d'Adet].
"If there was a stage to nail down, that was it, with no valleys, four climbs, a great Europcar team and an exceptional [Yukiya] Arashiro. But I lacked the freshness to go behind Majka and Visconti."