Tour no longer Rolland's raison d'être
Pierre Rolland's fine Giro d'Italia debut appears to have opened the Frenchman's eyes to life outside of the Tour de France. Currently sitting 16th overall, he explained that he has not had time to recover sufficiently from his fine fourth-place finish in Italy. The Europcar man has ruled out the prospect of repeating the Giro-Tour double in 2015 and admits that he may even forgo La Grande Boucle altogether next season.
"Right now, I'd say that I won't do the Giro and Tour in 2015. I'll do the Tour and the Vuelta or maybe even the Giro and the Vuelta," Rolland told L'Équipe. "And if the latter is the case, then why not build a big team around Bryan Coquard for the 2015 Tour? I'm not making an obsession of the Tour anymore."
It would be understandable if Rolland's mind was not entirely on the task in hand at this Tour, given that is wife is eight months pregnant. Indeed, the imminent arrival of his first child was the reason Rolland opted to ride the Giro rather than the Vuelta this year.
For now, however, he remains in the Tour, albeit caught in no-man’s land between aiming for the GC and trying to land a stage win. "I don't see myself saying 'sit up and go for stages,' but at the same time, I'm not interested in finishing 15th," Rolland said.
Pinot's parachute jump
Thibaut Pinot's very public crisis of confidence at last year's Tour left many questioning whether he had the mindset to capitalise on his undoubted talents, but FDJ.fr's resident sports psychologist Denis Troch is pleased with how the youngster is handling the expectation this time around.
Given that Pinot's principal problem last year was a mental block on fast descents, Troch found an appropriate metaphor to describe the Frenchman’s first two attempts at the Tour – the fearless 10th place debut of 2012 and the premature abandon of 2013.
"What he's lived in the past two years is like a parachute jump," Troch told Aujourd'hui. "The first time around, you go and do it without really knowing what it is, so you do it calmly. But the second time around, you start to have worries and doubts."
A former coach at Paris Saint-Germain, Troch has been in cycling since 2009 and involved formally with FDJ for the past four years. He maintains that the 24-year-old Pinot has matured immeasurably over the past two seasons.
"Today, it's less complicated but it's still complex," Troch said of Pinot's third Tour sky dive. "He's had to understand what leadership is and what attitude to adopt with his teammates, the public and the media. Some people are born with it, but most have to learn. Thibaut has acquired the posture of a leader. You only need to look at him, it’s striking."
L'Equipe and Hinault talk up the 'Nouvelle Génération' of French riders
For a second consecutive day, the L'Equipe sports newspaper has followed a proud patriotic angle and talked up the chances of the 'nouvelle génération' of French riders.
Lotto Belisol’s Tony Gallopin's stage 11 victory salute in Oyonnax was splashed across the front page, and another page was dedicated to the overall chances of FDJ.fr's Thibaut Pinot and Ag2r-La Mondiale's Romain Bardet. The headline described them as the generation that has guts.
Even Bernard Hinault seemed impressed with their ability and their attitude.
"It's a pleasure to see that this new generation is showing itself. They're showing they've got character just like I did at my age, when I stood up to the older guard in the peloton," Hinault said with Gallic pride.
"That they're not happy to be criticized is good, it show's they've touched by the criticism. I've waited a long time to see a reaction like theirs. It's a good sign for the future.
Alain Gallopin tips his nephew to go on to do great things after his Tour de France success
Tony Gallopin's move into the yellow jersey after stage 9 and his victory in stage 11, and the way he secured them, has rightly earned huge praise and reinforced opinion in the sport that he could develop into an excellent Classics rider.
Although perhaps a little biased, his uncle and personal advisor Alain Gallopin, who is a directeur sportif with the Trek Factory Racing team, believes he can even become world champion or target the overall classification at the Tour de France in years to come.
"He's got the instinct of a winner. He knows he could well overall but he's not interested in that and it’s a bit late this year. He's a puncheur, the kind of rider who could win the world title.
"If he finds a team in the future that believes in him and protects him, he could also do well in Tours. He proved he can climb at the Dauphiné."
Trek extends with Nizzolo through 2016
The Trek Factory Racing team announced it has extended the contract of up-and-coming sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo. The 25-year-old Italian had a strong showing in the Giro d'Italia, taking second place in the sprints four times and coming second to Nacer Bouhanni in the points classification. He has yet to race a Tour de France, but expect to see himself in the race in the future, as Trek works to develop his talent.
General Manager Luca Guercilena: "I strongly believe that Giacomo is on the verge of a career breakthrough," team manager Luca Guercilena said. "His numbers in terms of speed and endurance are really good and he's really in the wheel of the big sprinters.
"Giacomo's success is the fruit of our development program and we are looking forward to continuing to work with him. He's one of the most constant sprinters in the bunch and he can challenge for the win with or without a sprint train."
"Growing talent is one of the most exciting projects in our sport," says Guercilena. "I remember very well the Giacomo that arrived at the first training camp for the 2011 season. He was somewhat shy and didn't speak so much English. Now he is a confident young man that has clear goals in his mind. We're happy that we can work on those together."
Nizzolo has enjoyed the support his team has provided, and said, "I'm taking steps every season and I feel there's still a lot of margin for me," says Nizzolo. "I'd like to grow more and rival the big sprinters more. With some dedicated riders on my side it should be possible."