After a decade of contracts with French teams, Pierre Rolland is set to embark on a fresh start with the American outfit Cannondale Pro Cycling in 2016. The Frenchman is set to co-lead, alongside Andrew Talansky, at the Tour de France where he will receive the full backing of the team, possibly for the first time in his career, according to the team’s CEO and manager Jonathan Vaughters.
“It was a big change for me to move to Cannondale Pro Cycling team,” said Rolland in an interview during the team’s presentation via webcast Monday. “My dream this year is for the best general classification at the Tour de France. I think the Cannondale team is very good for me for my evolution.”
Rolland started his professional career with Credit Agricole in 2006 where he stayed until making the move to Bbox Bouygues Telecom in 2009. Sponsorship changes caused that team to transform into Team Europcar in 2011, which has been registered as a Professional Continental team every year with the exception of 2014 where they held a WorldTour licence.
During those years, Rolland developed into a promising overall contender in the Grand Tours. He’s had three top-10 overall finishes at the Tour de France (2011, 2012 and 2015), and he was eleventh in the 2014 edition. He was also fourth overall at the Giro d’Italia that year.
Rolland has also won two stages of the Tour but he said the highlight of his career happened in 2011 when he won the stage to Alpe d’Huez.
“For me, my best race win was on Alpe d’Huez,” Rolland said. “It was a big thing for a Frenchman at the Tour de France. It’s a good memory for me.”
According to Vaughters much of Rolland’s success as a top-10 overall contender was done on his own, without the dedicated support of Europcar, and he is already envisioning the possibilities for Rolland at the Tour de France with full backing from Cannondale this year.
“When I look at Pierre Rolland - If you look at the last three or four years in cycling, team leaders and guys riding general classification at the Tour de France have their entire team on the front but with Europcar, he never had that possibility. They never even attempted to give him that sheltering.
“In every single Tour de France since 2012 and forward, he’s always started the mountains with around a 10-minute deficit. You know? How did he achieve these seventh [sic] and eighth places in the Tour de France? It’s far more impressive than it looks.”
Vaughters said that he anticipates success from both Rolland and Talansky at the Tour de France this year and that their other new signing Rigoberto Uran will focus on the GC at the Giro d’Italia.
“Talansky and Rolland will overlap each other at the Tour de France,” Vaugthers said. “One of them will end up doing quite well. Maybe both, maybe both of them will end up doing quite well.”